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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Sergei Bodrov: Russia's lost actor
Sergei Bodrov
Bodrov was working on his second film as director
Russia's film world is fearing the worst after actor Sergei Bodrov's disappearance in an avalanche in the mountains of the North Caucasus.

The 31-year-old, who by a tragic irony came to fame with his role in Prisoner of the Caucasus, was shooting on location when he and many of his film crew were caught up in the terrifying landslide which is believed to have claimed scores of lives.


A hero of our time

Nikita Mikhalkov
Russian film director
His father, respected film director Sergei Bodrov Senior, is said to have accepted there is no longer any hope of finding his son alive under the collapsed glacier which scientists predict will take 12 years to thaw.

It would be a tragically untimely end for an actor who won the hearts of millions with his touching portrayals of youth in films which reflected modern Russian history.

For international audiences, he will mainly be remembered as the hapless raw recruit taken prisoner in Chechnya in the 1996 film directed by his father, which was based on a Tolstoy novella.

Nominated in America for an Academy Award, Prisoner of the Caucasus still stands as one of the great anti-war films and made waves in Russia when it was still reeling from defeat in the first Chechen war.

Brother

But Bodrov moved on with the times and for Russian audiences he is better known for a trilogy of hard-bitten thrillers shot by director Alexei Balabanov.

Brother (1997) and its sequel Brother 2 (2000) star Bodrov as a young war veteran returning to a civilian life where he soon finds himself killing again.

The trail left by the giant avalanche in the Karmadon gorge
The Caucasus mountains featured strongly in Bodrov's film career
Guided by a sense of honour and a deep cynicism, Bodrov's character wades into the sea of crime engulfing Russia's cities, dealing out rough justice to gangsters and pimps and corrupt officials, and in doing so striking a chord with Russia's vast, disaffected majority.

Bodrov describes them as films about "human worth".

In Balabanov's War (2002), the actor has a relatively minor role, again as a shell-shocked soldier held hostage in Chechnya, but the contrast with the 1996 film could not be greater.

The film, shot as Russian troops were fighting again in Chechnya, is a nihilistic tale of revenge as a Russian soldier cuts a swathe through his former Chechen captors.

If the film has any message, it is that there are no laws to this conflict other than that of vengeance, and the combatants should trust their own leaders even less than the enemy.

Leading Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov described Bodrov this week as an "image of our time, a hero of our time".

New departure

Bodrov was directing a film of his own, to be called Messenger, when the avalanche occurred.


No-one ever knows if they're shooting their debut or their epilogue

Sergei Bodrov
He made his debut last year as director and writer of Sisters, which won Russia's prestigious Kinotavr award.

At the time, he joked in an interview for Itogi magazine that "No-one ever knows if they're shooting their debut or their epilogue".

He will also be remembered for his work in Russian television, as an occasional interviewer on ORT's flagship Vzglyad current affairs programme and as presenter of a reality-based game show, Last Hero.

Only this summer, Sergei Bodrov Junior's wife Svetlana gave birth to a second child.

See also:

31 May 01 | Entertainment
22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
23 Sep 02 | Europe
23 Sep 02 | Europe
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