Synopsis by Mark Deming
Love blooms amidst the backdrop of czarist Russia in Nikita Mikhalkov's The Barber Of Siberia. The story opens in 1905 Springfield, MA, when a woman writes a letter to a young man in a military summer-training camp. He is currently being punished by one of his superiors, who forces him to wear a gas mask until he acknowledges that Mozart was a worthless composer. The woman has an important story to tell her addressee, and our story flashes back 20 years to Russia, where American Jane Callahan (Julia Ormond) is traveling to Moscow. A man who may or may not be Jane's father, Douglas McCracken (Richard Harris), is trying to perfect a machine, christened "The Barber of Siberia," that will harvest trees from the vast Siberian forests. Douglas hopes Jane can charm Gen. Radlov (Alexei Petrenko), the head of a Russian military academy, into arranging the financing that will enable him to complete his work on the harvester. En route, Jane meets a friendly Russian soldier, Andrei Tolstoy (Oleg Menshikov), and the two soon fall in love. Jane then meets and flirts with Radlov, who grows reciprocally fond of her -- enough so that he asks her to marry him. When it becomes evident she'd rather be with Tolstoy, he finds himself shipped off to Siberia after allegedly attacking a grand duke. Merging romance, costume drama, and slapstick comedy, The Barber Of Siberia was screened at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.
academy, machine, military-school, Russia, Russian [nationality], soldier, woman