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Film / Kidnapping, Caucasian Style

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Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (original title: Кавказская пленница, Prisoner of Caucasus) is a 1967 Soviet comedy film by Leonid Gaidai with the central plot revolving around the old tradition of bride kidnapping in the North Caucasus. The film is a part of the so-called "Shurik Trilogy" (also including Operation "Y" and Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession) and is also the last film to feature a "Three Stooges"-like trio of bumbling crooks known as the "Coward" (Georgy Vitsin), the "Fool" (Yuri Nikulin), and the "Pro" (Yevgeny Morgunov).

The main character is an ethnography student named Shurik (Aleksandr Demyanenko) who goes to Caucasus to collect the local customs and folklore. On the way, he meets an ambulance truck driver named Edik (Ruslan Akhmetov) whose vehicle perpetually refuses to start. They meet a young woman named Nina (Natalya Varley, voiced by Nadezhda Rumyantseva), a pedagogical student. Her uncle Dzhabrail (Frunzik Mkrtchyan) works as the driver for the local corrupt official and rich guy named Saakhov (Vladimir Etush). Shurik's attempts to collect folklore result in him being frequently drunk, as the locals refuse to tell him their folklore (in the form of long and elaborate toasts) unless he drinks with them.

Saakhov wishes to marry Nina and strikes a deal with Dzhabrail, in which Dzhabrail agrees to give Nina to Saakhov in exchange for 20 heads of sheep and an imported fridge. Realizing that an independently-minded woman like Nina is not likely to marry Saakhov voluntarily, Dzhabrail decides to have her kidnapped, at which point she'll have no choice. He hires the above-mentioned trio to kidnap her, but they find it difficult to get her alone, as Shurik has also fallen for the girl and spends a lot of time with her. Dzhabrail convinces Shurik that Nina is madly in love with another man and that she would like Shurik to kidnap her as part of an ancient custom. Despite his own feelings, Shurik agrees to make Nina happy. Shurik finds her at a campsite, says goodbye, and zips up her sleeping bag, allowing the trio to grab the bag and drag her away, taking Nina to Saakhov's dacha.

Back in town, Shurik realizes he's been duped and runs to the cops, only to be intercepted by Saakhov (Shurik doesn't yet know he's involved) and, after hearing Shurik out, warns him that the cops will arrest him as a co-conspirator. Instead, Saakhov suggests going straight to the prosecutor. Saakhov takes him to a party and gets Shurik drunk, then calls the local psychiatric clinic and has Shurik committed as an alcoholic.

At Saakhov's dacha, Nina is locked in a room. The trio try to cheer her up by bringing her food and singing a song. She appears to be interested, only to use the distraction to slip away. She is stopped by her uncle and is once again locked up. Finding out that he's involved, Nina declares a hunger strike. Saakhov tries to go inside with a bottle of wine and some flowers only to walk out covered in the wine. Saakhov and Dzhabrail decide to give her some time to come to her senses and drive away, leaving the trio to guard her.

At the clinic, Shurik realizes that Saakhov is involved and manages to escape, meeting Edik outside. They drive to Saakhov's dacha, disguising themselves as doctors (complete with masks to hide Shurik's face) and claiming that they are doing vaccinations against a deadly plague that's ravaging the area. Edik then injects the trio with sedatives, while Shurik goes up to Nina's room. Thinking that he's involved, Nina hits him on the head and runs away, stealing one of the trucks in the yard. This results in a car chase with the trio following Nina, and Shurik and Edik following the trio. The crooks manage to capture Nina and take her vehicle. However, the sedative then takes effect, and the vehicles nearly crashes. Shurik manages to catch up and prevent the crash. He begins to untie Nina, only for her to start cursing him until he shuts her up with a kiss.

At night, Saakhov has fallen asleep in front of the TV in his apartment. Suddenly, Nina appears with mask-wearing and armed Shurik and Edik, who claim to be Nina's brothers. They say that they have come to enforce the "law of the mountains". Scared and not recognizing them, Saakhov attempts to jump out the window, only to be shot in the butt by Edik. When Nina confronts him about this, Edik reveals that the rifle is only loaded with salt. At the trial the next day, where the trio, Dzhabrail, and Saakhov are being charged, Saakhov is unable to sit. Shurik walks Nina to her bus and then follows on his donkey.

In 2014, a remake with an all-new cast was released with a mostly-unchanged plot. According to the director, his goal was not to make a remake but to "make a big cinema-attraction for the new generation". This remake was both a critical and a commercial failure.

Provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Edik constantly curses out his truck for refusing to start.
  • Battered Bouquet: The film has a famous scene where Saakhov enters Nina's room carrying a tray with some fruit, wine, and a vase with flowers. A few seconds later he comes out without the tray, with the wine all over his clothes, and a broken flower behind his ear.
  • Missing Time: Shurik experiences an alcohol-induced blackout after being forced to drink a lot to get people's toasts. The next day he's being chastised by a cop.
    Cop: ...and ruined the grand opening of the wedding palace. Then, on the remains of a chapel...
    Shurik: Excuse me, was the chapel also... me?
    Cop: No, that was before you, in the 14th century.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Shurik gets drunk fairly easily, although the fact that every local whom he asks for a piece of folklore refuses to do so unless he drinks with them doesn't make it easy. He's even arrested for public drunkenness at an official function, but Saakhov uses his influence to get him out.
  • Comic Trio: The scenes with the Coward, the Fool, and the Pro tend to be pretty funny.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Saakhov is the director of the regional agricultural cooperative and the wealthiest and most powerful man in town. He uses his wealth and power to convince Dzhabrail to sell him his niece.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted. The car that the trio bails out of just before it goes off a cliff doesn't explode, merely breaking apart on impact.
  • Evil Uncle: Dzhabrail is perfectly willing to sell his niece to his boss in exchange for some cattle and an expensive fridge. He even orchestrates her kidnapping and tricks the guy who loves her into helping. After Nina finds out that he's involved, he tells her that, when the cops come looking for her, he'll tell them that he has no idea where she is, only that she should've listened to her elders.
  • Flowery Insults: Edik loves to curse out his non-starting truck in an elaborate manner.
    Damned be the day I sat behind the wheel of this vacuum cleaner! No wonder the great and wise Abu-Ahmat ibn Bey told me, "Bear in mind, Edik!.." (stretches out his hand) "Allah alone knows where the spark of this unworthy degenerate of the great family of internal combustion engines goes! May its carburetor wither off for all eternity!"
  • Giant Medical Syringe: One of the most famous gag scenes is when the heroes, disguised as medics, are giving the trio of villains sedative injections under the guise of vaccine. The Pro is injected with a huge syringe which the hero then struggles to pull out. In reality, it is called a Janet Syringe, and is used not for injections, but to flush out all kinds of filth like pus or earwax.
  • Go Among Mad People: After being committed, Shurik tries to enlist the help of two other patients to escape. The gesture he makes is suggesting to share a bottle of vodka among three of them (a common proposal and practice in USSR - that's why he wiggles three fingers). The two patients look at him in annoyance and tell him that it's a sin to make fun of sick people - because they are all locked up in asylum with no alcohol shops (obviously). Shurik insists he is serious, but he has to purchase it in town, so they eventually help to catapult him on Edik's truck.
  • Good Samaritan: Edik, who owes absolutely nothing to Surik or Nina, yet pulls deuteragonist duties in helping the former rescue the later.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Despite having feelings for Nina, Shurik agrees to help the trio kidnap Nina, as he is told by her uncle that she wants him to be the one to kidnap her for another man.
  • Instant Sedation: Averted, it takes 10-15 minutes for the sedatives injected into the trio to take effect. Edik is even forced to use a huge syringe on the Pro due to his enormous bulk and has trouble penetrating his buttcheek with the syringe. Unfortunately, they take effect in the exact wrong moment, and the car they're in nearly ends up careening off a mountain.
  • The Kindnapper: Shurik is a nice but naive guy who's tricked into kidnapping Nina by her Evil Uncle.
  • The Musical: Typical of the Soviet films of that era, the film features several songs sung by characters, both of which became cult favorites. The first one is Nina singing to Shurik about the polar bears who literally make the world go round (by rubbing their backs on the axis). The second one is the Fool singing about how many wives he would have if he were a sultan.
  • Nobody Here but Us Sheep: After kidnapping Nina, Shurik and the trio are stopped by a cop who asks what's in the bag. Assuming that everyone is aware of what's going on, Shurik plainly tells him that they're kidnapping the bride. One of the trio baas, and the cop laughs at Shurik, telling him to invite him for dinner when he makes kebabs from "the bride".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Slightly subverted, as the trio's nicknames (the Coward, the Fool, and the Pro) are never mentioned on screen, only shown in the credits.
  • Only One Name: No character's full name is mentioned. They are either called by their first names (Shurik, Nina, Edik, Dzhabrail) or last names (Saakhov), although, technically, "Shurik" is a short form of Aleksandr. Edik does mention someone by his full name (Abu-Ahmat ibn Bey), but the character never appears.
  • Polyamory: In his song, the Fool expresses his desire to have three wives if he were a sultan. He imagines them doing various chores, then realizes that this means that he would have three mothers-in-law. He then states that, if he were a sultan, he wouldn't have any wives.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: At the end of the film, Shurik and Edik pretend to be Nina's brothers from the mountains who come to avenge her kidnapping citing the "law of the mountains".
    Saakhov: I demand to be tried by our, Soviet, laws!
    Masked man: Did you buy her by Soviet laws? Or, maybe, you kidnapped her by Soviet laws?
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: When first arriving into town, Shurik is asked for the purpose of his visit. He replies that he's on an "ethnographical expedition". The other person assumes he's looking for oil.
  • Shot in the Ass: Edik accidentally shoots Saakhov in the butt, when the latter tries to jump out of his apartment window to escape "masked assassins". The rifle is actually loaded with salt, so there's no permanent damage, but Saakhov is unable to sit down during his trial the next day.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Shurik gives one to the enraged Nina as she's struggling to get out of her ropes to slap him to stop her cursing him out as well as to let her know how he feels.
  • Stubborn Mule: Shurik rides into town on a donkey, which stops and refuses to budge until Nina shows up, at which point the donkey suddenly continues.
  • invoked Technology Marches On: One of the toasts told to Shurik is of a princess who demands an impossible task from every suitor.
    ...And the princess hung herself on her own braid in anger, for he absolutely precisely counted how many seeds were in the sack, how many drops were in the sea, and how many stars in the sky. So lets drink to cybernetics!
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: The moral of one of the toasts told to Shurik about a bird who chose to fly towards the sun instead of joining the flock. Like Icarus, the bird burns its wings and falls to its death. Being already drunk, Shurik ignores the moral and weeps for the poor bird.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: The Car Chase of bad guys after the escaped kidnapped girl. Good guys join in riding a wooden barrel on a platform with small wheels.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Averted with the main character, who doesn't drink and Can't Hold His Liquor when forced to. The trio start their arrival into town by ordering three large mugs of beer. The Coward accidentally passes his mug to a random passerby, who immediately begins to praise Allah for the gift. Realizing his mistake, the Coward takes back his mug, and the passerby continues praising Allah.
    A toast without wine is the same as a wedding night without a bride.

Alternative Title(s): Kidnapping Caucasus Style