The Soviet cinematic posterProperty of the Republic
(Dostoyanie respubliki, Достояние республики
) is a 1971 Soviet detective-adventure film set during the time of civil war in Russia and starring a pleiad of famous Russian actors led by Oleg Tabakov and Andrei Mironov.
In 1918, after the Great October Revolution
, the collection of precious art objects that belonged to the Prince Tikhvinsky’s family and was to be passed to the government, is stolen. A young detective Makar Ovchinnikov (played by Oleg Tabakov
) is charged with the job of finding it. Makar discovers that the treasure has been stolen by the former Tikhvinsky’s steward Tarakanov. Meanwhile, Tarakanov turns to a former fencing teacher of the Tikhvinskys’ family, an adventurer nicknamed Marquis (played by Andrei Mironov
), who had once helped the Prince’s family to flee from the Revolution, to assist him in conveying the collection abroad. Marquis befriends a street urchin Keshka, and they hide themselves and the collection among the members of an itinerant circus troupe, where Marquis demonstrates his Improbable Aiming Skills
with a revolver. Makar joins the troupe incognito, but then the protagonists are caught in-between the rock and the hard place when the gang of bandits led by Lagutin gets their hands on both them and the Tikhvinsky’s treasure…
The film has gorgeous visuals (including combined animated sequences by Yuri Norstein), music by Yevgeny Krylatov
, and some nicely staged action scenes. It was a big hit in the USSR in the 1970s, and Andrei Mironov named the role of Marquis his favorite among all the roles he played.
This film provides examples of:
- Always Chaotic Evil: Lagutin. He even lampshades it in his Hannibal Lecture.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Lagutin, a former noble turned ruthless bandit.
- Artistic License - History: Pintoricchio’s Portrait of a Boy (Portrait of a Boy in Blue in the film) was never sold to any Russian Prince, of course.
- Badass: Makar, Marquis.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Catch Phrase: About the Crimea: “It’s warm, there’s apples.”
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Well, there are still some of Lagutin’s mooks to wipe out, but the main job has already been done at a high cost.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Keshka has shades of this, daydreams about a red horse and all.
- Chekhov's Skill: Marquis’ trick at the circus is to shoot a target that’s behind him. Later, he uses this skill to kill the gang leader Lagutin.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marquis is the indisputable champion, even in the face of mortal danger.
Lagutin orders Marquis to shoot the heads off of seven statues of Muses or face certain death.
Marquis: I don’t shoot at women.
- Determinator: Makar.
Makar: I’ll find this collection even if devils have taken it!
- Evil Gloating: Lagutin muses about how unfair life is – he doesn’t want to live but he will, and Makar wants to but will not.
- Guns Akimbo: Makar in one of the last scenes. Subverted: he’s out of bullets and drops the guns.
- Heroic Sacrifice: It’s not like Marquis didn’t see it coming when he shot Lagutin in front of the whole gang.
- "I Am" Song: Marquis’Song of a Rapier («Песенка о шпаге»).
- Icy Blue Eyes: Lagutin
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Marquis and Makar
- Intergenerational Friendship: Marquis and Keshka, later Makar and Keshka.
- Killed Off for Real: Marquis. *sniff*
- MacGuffin: The stolen Tikhvinsky’s collection.
- Master Swordsman: Marquis is a former fencing teacher.
- Nice Guy: Makar
- Red Baron: Shilovsky, known as Marquis.
- Renaissance Man: Closer to the end of the film it is revealed that Marquis was a Fine Arts student good enough to be sent on training to Italy, and that he worked as an aviator, a huntsman, a circus performer, a jockey, a fencing teacher. He is also a poet if we are to believe that, in-universe, the songs he sings in the film were written by him.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: The cast is armed with revolvers and Mauser C96 pistols. Truth in Television, given the time.
- Scenery Porn: The Saint-Petersburg cityscapes. Lampshaded by Marquis’ nostalgic song about the city’s beauty. Also, gorgeous shots of the Kirilo-Belozersky monastery◊ in the end.
- Sinister Shades: Tarakanov
- Title Drop: By Makar, twice.
- Warrior Poet: Marquis
- Wicked Cultured: Lagutin
- What the Hell, Hero?: When Makar calls Marquis out on his aiding the Jerkass Tarakanov in his attempts to smuggle the collection abroad.
- White Shirt of Death: Both Makar and Marquis in the end. Subverted in the case of Makar, who survives.