Synopsis by Nathan Southern
In traditional Soviet history books and popular opinion, early 20th century war admiral Aleksandr Kolchak (1874-1920), a crusader against the Bolsheviks, went down as a brutal, homicidal, and nearly psychotic tyrant who massacred untoward numbers of people. But that interpretation gets dramatically rewritten by this lavish, sweeping chronicle produced at the height of a resurgence in Russian nationalism during the early 21st century. Here, as played by Konstantin Khabensky, Kolchak emerges as an admirable and commendable battle hero. The tale opens in 1916, with the military man holding court as a fearless, iron-willed, cunning leader; his only overriding weakness seems to be his slight and occasional infidelities to wife Sofia (Anna Kovalchuk). She tolerates this as well as she can, though in time, Kolchak falls helplessly in love with another woman -- Anna (Elizaveta Boyarskaya), the wife of officer Sergey Timirev (Vladislav Vetrov). As Kolchak struggles valiantly and courageously against the encroaching shadow of the Russian Revolution, both he and Anna realize that they will do literally anything to be together, and risk their lives and safety to make that happen -- up through the point when Kolchak meets a tragic but respectable end fighting on the Siberian tundras. At the time of its release, this marked the most expensive film ever produced in Russia, with a budget of around $20 million.