Prisoner of the Mountains (Russian: Кавказский пленник, Kavkazskiy plennik, Prisoner of the Caucasus (U.K. title) is a 1996 Russian war drama film directed by Sergei Bodrov. It was released in the United States in 1996. The film based on A Prisoner of the Caucasus by the noted Russian writer Leo Tolstoy was released in some 15 countries worldwide.
This film illustrates the conflicting views between traditional Chechen
culture and Russian warfare through the skillful use of soundtrack, costuming, and arms. While the political powerhouse of the Russian army prevails in the final sequence, the personal fight between two Russian soldiers and their Chechen captors is the main theme.
The film is notable for having been filmed in the mountains of Dagestan, a short distance away from the then-ongoing First Chechen War.
Based upon a short story by Leo Tolstoy
, two Russian soldiers, Sasha and Vanya, are ambushed by Muslim
rebels in the Caucasus
region of Chechnya
and taken prisoner by a Chechen, who wants to trade them for his son in a Russian prison. The two cope with the situation in very different ways, as the war-hardened Sasha works to escape while the young and naive Vanya tries to make friends with his captors. After a failed escape plan Sasha is executed because he killed an innocent shepherd while Vanya is allowed to live, albeit in a dark hole with food thrown down to him occasionally. In the end, Vanya's captors let him leave as the Russian army flies over the village to bomb it.