War (2002 film)

Film poster
Directed byAleksei Balabanov
Produced bySergei Selyanov
Written byAleksei Balabanov
StarringAleksei Chadov
Ian Kelly
Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė
Sergei Bodrov Jr.
Music byVyacheslav Butusov
CinematographySergei Astakhov
Edited byMarina Lipartiya
Distributed byCTB Film Company
Intercinema Art
Release date
March 14, 2002
Running time
120 minutes
LanguageRussian, English, Chechen

War (Russian: Война, translit. Voina) is a 2002 Russian war film by Aleksei Balabanov about the realities of the Second Chechen War, starring Aleksei Chadov and Ian Kelly.


The film begins with the protagonist, former conscript Ivan Yermakov (Alexei Chadov), being interviewed by a journalist in a detention centre. As he begins his story the film cuts to Chechnya in the summer of 2001, during the Second Chechen War. Held captive by Chechen warlord Aslan Gugayev (Georgy Gurguliya), Ivan and another conscript, Fedya, serve as domestic slaves. Ivan is also used as a communications specialist. Eventually, Aslan's militants also capture English actor John Boyle (Ian Kelly) and his fiancée Margaret Michaelsen (Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė). After a while, Ivan, Fedya, and the two English prisoners are taken to another aul and put into a zindan where they find Captain Medvedev (Sergei Bodrov, Jr.), who is already paralyzed due to injury.

Aslan releases John to collect £2 million for Margaret's ransom. Along with John, he releases Ivan and Fedya, as no-one was willing to pay their ransom.

John's efforts to raise money are unsuccessful, but one British television company offered to provide him with financial assistance in exchange for extensive video footage of the operation. In Moscow, John again runs into the complete indifference of military officials and instead decides to ask Ivan to help him rescue Margaret.

Ivan's life in Tobolsk is not working out. He cannot adapt to a peaceful civilian life, and he cannot find work due to fears over his potentially unbalanced psyche after Chechen captivity. Before that, he comes to St. Petersburg, to the family of Captain Medvedev, whom no one is willing to rescue. When John comes to Tobolsk, Ivan agrees to go back to Chechnya in exchange for money. After passing through Moscow and Vladikavkaz, Ivan and John covertly enter Chechnya, seizing an SUV with a large number of weapons in the trunk en route. After capturing a local resident, Ruslan Shamayev (Euclid Kyurdzidis), Ivan finds his way to Gugayev's aul. After waiting for a large group of militants to depart, Ivan, John, and Ruslan attack the aul. Having killed the guards with the weapons they had seized earlier, they find Margaret with Captain Medvedev and discover that she had been raped by the militants. Enraged, John kills Gugayev, further complicating the situation: Ivan needed Gugayev alive as a hostage to leave Chechnya safely.

Gugayev's militants assault the aul and give chase, but the group escapes on a makeshift raft and takes up defensive positions in an old fortress tower. With the help of a satellite phone taken from Aslan, Medvedev requests support from the Air Force. Russian helicopters arrive, routing the militants, and deliver Medvedev and the group to a military base.

John gives Ivan the money he promised, of which he gives Ruslan a thousand pounds. The remaining money Ivan later gave to Captain Medvedev for treatment.

The film ends with Ivan's brief comments. Margaret did not marry John. John, having constantly filmed the trip, released a film and a book, titled "My Life in Russia". After the release of his film, Ivan was brought to trial for the murder of "peaceful civilians of the Russian Federation". Ruslan, who moved to Moscow, testified against Ivan. The only one who stood up for Ivan was Captain Medvedev.


Actor Role
Aleksei Chadov sergeant Ivan Yermakov
Ian Kelly John Boyle
Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė Margaret (John's fiancée)
Euclid Kyurdzidis Ruslan Shamayev
Sergei Bodrov Jr. captain Medvedev
Georgy Gurguliya Aslan Gugayev
Vladimir Gostyukhin Ivan's father
Irina Sokolova captain Medvedev's mother
Stas Stotsky Fedya Kulik
Yuri Stepanov Alexander Matrosov

Film crew[]

Director Aleksei Balabanov
Screenwriter Aleksei Balabanov
Camera Operator Sergei Astakhov
Artist Pavel Parkhomenko
Producer Sergei Selyanov


Aleksei Balabanov wrote the scenario for the film in 1998 after he saw on television the severed heads of British specialists working in Chechnya.

Balabanov aspired to make the film extremely realistic, to the point of naturalism. Before shooting, he talked with former captives from the First Chechen War, travelled to the villages of Kabardino-Balkaria, met with General Viktor Kazantsev, the commander of the Russian troops in Chechnya, and watched videotapes chronicling Chechen atrocities. Some of these tapes he demonstrated to the English actor Ian Kelly. According to Balabanov, during the showing Kelly was shaking.

The work was difficult from a psychological point of view. We've watched tapes where the people being filmed by the Chechens were actually being killed. This spectacle made a very strong impression on me that I couldn't even expect. I must have gone on for three days like I've been knocked on the head. I liked wearing vests, and one of the paratroopers in the tapes was killed while wearing a vest. While we were living in the mountains, I did not wear any vests.

The film was shot in Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Chechnya, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tobolsk, and London.

For greater realism, many of the Chechens in the film were played by real Chechens, and the Russian troops were played by real soldiers, helicopter pilots, scouts, and contractors. Due to the war, the film was only partially filmed on Chechen lands, in particular at the checkpoint at the entrance to Grozny. The film was made in near-warlike conditions.[1] The shooting took place in quiet areas, and the group was guarded by SOBR officers.

To shoot the scenes with the captives in the zindan, a real pit was dug. The actors laid in the wet, filthy pit for several hours, as Balabanov wanted everything to be as realistic as possible. The scene with actress Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė floating naked in a cold rapid was filmed without using a double.[2]

More than anyone, the filming most intimidated the English actor Ian Kelly, who did not understand the Russian language.

Poor Ian did not know a word of Russian, and Dapkūnaitė lives in England. And he always rushed to her, complained about how he was forced to sit in the pit, how he was forced to climb into the river, how he nearly drowned there, how Balabanov said to someone right in front of Ian that he was a bad actor. And for Westerners, this is a completely unacceptable way of communication. And Inga patiently explained that the Russians always work like this and that Russians always scream, and if they start shooting, they only use live ammunition. Therefore, it is custom for Russians to actually drown and to actually save themselves.

During the filming in Kabardino-Balkaria, a helicopter used for the film produced thermal shots and one of them accidentally got into an ancient Balkar cemetery, as a result of which it caught fire and many graves were destroyed. Because of that, an ethnic conflict between the staff of the film crew and local residents almost happened. Among the SOBR officers guarding the group was a former Chechen captain, who was able to stop the infuriated crowd. On the set, all but Bodrov and Dapkūnaitė lived in the homes of local residents. Balabanov lived in the house of a woman whose ancestors' tombs were destroyed in the cemetery destroyed.[3]


War - Official Soundtrack
War - Soundtrack cover.jpg
Soundtrack album
Released2002 (2002)
GenreRussian rock
Length120 minutes
LabelSony Music
Tracklist :
1."Voina (Война, War)"Timur Mutsurayev0:52
2."Komandor (Командор, Commander)"Tomas5:14
3."Volki (Волки, Wolves)"Bi-25:37
5."Bereg (Берег, Coast)"Vyacheslav Butusov4:43
6."Lyutaya(Лютая, Fierce)"Volga-Volga1:36
7."Chyorny voron (Чёрный ворон, Black Raven)"Livan and PEKh5:53
8."Fellini (Феллини)"Splean/Bi-25:05
9."Yeshyo ne vecher (Ещё не вечер, Not yet evening)"Bi-24:55
10."Plastmassovaya Zhizn' (Пластмассовая Жизнь, Plastic Life)"Splean3:31
11."Sokol (Сокол, Falcon)"Bi-27:07
12."Kholostye puli (Холостые пули, Blank bullets)"Partisan radio4:11
13."Moya zvezda (Моя звезда, My star)"Vyacheslav Butusov and Deadushki5:14
14."Vulitsa (Вулиця, Street)"Okean Elzy5:28
15."Voina (Volki-2) (Война (Волки-2), War (Wolves-2))"Bi-24:33

Music that was featured in the film, but not included in the soundtrack:

Song Performer
Iyerusalim, Shamil' vedyot otryad Timur Mutsuraev
Gde zh moya lyubimaya Arangulov brothers

Awards and nominations[]

Similar films[]


  1. ^ "В российский прокат выходит фильм Алексея Балабанова "Война"". News.ru. 14 March 2002. Archived from the original on 2014-10-10.
  2. ^ "Интервью Ингеборги Дапкунайте". Эхо Москвы. 30 June 2002. Archived from the original on 2014-10-10.
  3. ^ "Интервью Сергея Бодрова". Город-Томск. 10 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2014-09-26.
  4. ^ "Пятьдесят самых продаваемых видеофильмов в 2002 году". ВидеоГид. Archived from the original on 2015-01-06.

External links[]