Night Watch (2004 film)
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov Produced by Konstantin Ernst
Screenplay by Timur Bekmambetov
Sergei Lukyanenko (Original)
Laeta Kalogridis (English)
Based on The Night Watch by
Starring Konstantin Khabensky
Music by Yuri Poteyenko Cinematography Sergey Tromifov Editing by Dimitry Kiselev Studio Channel One Russia Distributed by Gemini Film
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) July 8, 2004 Running time 115 minutes Country Russia Language Russian Budget $4.2 million Box office $33,899,078
Night Watch (Russian: Ночной дозор, Nochnoy dozor) is a 2004 Russian supernatural thriller film directed by Timur Bekmambetov. It is loosely based on the novel The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, and is the first part of a trilogy, followed by Day Watch and ending supposedly with Twilight Watch (although the rights for it were acquired by FOX, production has not started yet).
In the prologue, which is set in medieval times, humans with extra powers are called Others (Иные, иной; Inyye, Inoy). The Others are proponents of either light or dark and confront each other to do battle. Geser, lord of light, realizes that the two forces are evenly matched and both will be destroyed. In parley with Zavulon, general of Dark, the two agree to a truce in which the light will form a Night Watch and the dark a Day Watch to maintain the balance before the coming of the Great One who will choose either Light or Dark and thereby bring one to prominence.
In modern Russia, when his wife leaves him for another man, Anton Gorodetsky (Russian: Антон Городецкий) goes to see an old woman, Daria, whom he believes will be able to bring her back. Daria tells him that his wife is pregnant by the other man and that she must be made to miscarry, because if she gives birth she will return to the other man. Anton accepts responsibility for this. Daria prepares a drink involving Anton's blood which he drinks. The shot cuts to his wife telling the other man they have to split up. Daria starts to recite an incantation to induce an abortion, and Anton's wife on a distant boat collapses and clutches at her womb. Just as the incantation is about to be complete, two figures become visible in the room, and a third appears at the door, who shapeshifts into a tiger, and restrains the old woman. They express surprise when Anton sees them and note that he must be an "Other". Twelve years later, Anton has become a member of the Night Watch along with the three figures. At Anton's request, Kostya, his neighbor, takes him to his father, a butcher, to procure blood for Anton to drink. The father does so reluctantly, and after Anton leaves he says that the Night Watch only drink blood when they are hunting a vampire, such as themselves.
A twelve-year-old boy, Yegor, is hearing "The Call" - a psychic call by a vampire who intends to feed. Anton tracks Yegor, being able to hear the call as he nears Yegor, thanks to the blood he drank. On the way he sees a blond woman with her hair flying about even though she is inside a subway train with no airflow. Realizing she is under a deadly curse, Anton uses a magical flashlight to attempt to remove it but fails. Two vampires are about to feed on Yegor when Anton arrives, and he is attacked by the male vampire, whom Anton can see only in a mirror. Anton wounds the female vampire with the remaining enegies of the flashlight, forcing her to hide. The other members of the Night Watch arrive and turn on the lights on their truck, which have been enchanted like Anton's flashlight. Anton then picks up a mirror shard and directs the light from the truck towards the male vampire's chest, destroying him. A member of the Day Watch arrives and reveals that the Day Watch are aware of the murder of one of their dark ones.
Anton is healed by Geser, who notes that he could have solved things more easily by entering into the Twilight - a shadow world only available for the Others. After Anton tells him about the woman in the subway, he reveals a legend about a virgin who was cursed and people and animals around her died or sickened, she was accompanied by a vortex of damnation. Either this virgin, who has been reborn, must die, or they must find who cursed her. Geser gives Anton an assistant called Olga, in the shape of a stuffed owl. Anton refuses and laughs, until he sees Geser throw it out the window, whereupon it turns into a living owl that flies away. At Anton's apartment, the owl arrives and shapeshifts into a woman. Kostya arrives and says he knows that Anton killed the vampire Dark Other. Anton and Olga track Yegor to his home, where they must enter the Twilight, as Yegor is there hiding from the female vampire. The Twilight almost takes Yegor, but a blood sacrifice from Anton distracts it enough for them to escape. Emerging from the Twilight, Anton sees a photo of Yegor and his mother, Anton's wife of twelve years ago. Night Watch members Tiger and Bear arrive to protect Yegor, but they start kissing and the boy follows the call of the female vampire.
Anton and Olga go to a command and control center set up near the apartment of the woman, Svetlana, from the subway train. A vortex, capable of immense destruction, has appeared over her apartment and bad things have been happening to those near her. Anton discovers that Daria had lied to him and that the boy he tried to abort was in fact his own son, not his wife's lover's. Therefore, Yegor is Anton's son. Anton enters Svetlana's apartment and talks with her, whereby it is revealed that she cursed herself, meaning she is an Other. This revealed, the curse ends and the vortex disappears. Yegor escapes the grips of the female vampire and tries to save Anton's life after Zavulon enters from the roof. During a duel, Anton attempts to stab Zavulon, but Zavulon sidesteps the swipe just as Yegor runs up. Zavulon stops Anton's momentum, both saving Yegor's life and making it appear as if Anton were attempting to kill his son. Zavulon's assistant reads Anton's personal file aloud, and hearing that Anton tried to kill him before he was born, Yegor, revealed to be the Great One, willingly turns to the Dark, to Anton's dismay.
- Konstantin Khabenskiy as Anton Gorodetsky
- Vladimir Menshov as Geser
- Valeriy Zolotukhin as Kostya's father
- Maria Poroshina as Svetlana
- Galina Tyunina as Olga
- Yuriy "Gosha" Kutsenko as Ignat
- Aleksei Chadov as Kostya
- Zhanna Friske as Alicia Donnikova
- Ilya Lagutenko as Andrei
- Viktor Verzhbitsky as Zavulon
The film was the first big-budget Russian fantasy film and one of the first blockbusters made after the collapse of the Soviet film industry. The film was produced by Channel One, the government-owned TV channel, with a budget of US$4.2 million. It was shot in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Part of the challenge for such a big-budget fantasy film was creating hundreds of visual effects (VFX) shots to which a modern audience is accustomed. 16 Russian VFX studios and several freelancers were used, each chosen for their individual strengths. Many shots were created by different artists across different time zones, using the Internet to share data and images.
The film contains several songs from rock bands, e.g. "Jack" by the Belarusian group TT-34, "Spanish" by Drum Ecstasy group etc. The song played in the credits of the international version of the movie is called "Shatter" and performed by the Welsh rock band Feeder. The track was a top 20 hit single in the United Kingdom charting at #11 in 2005, to coincide with the international release of the film. The song playing during the end credits of the American release of Night Watch is "Fearless" by The Bravery. In the original Russian version it is a rap which summarizes the movie plot in a funny way.
Release and reception
After a first appearance at the Moscow Film Festival on June 27, 2004, it went on general cinema release across the CIS on July 8, 2004. The film was extremely successful, becoming the highest-grossing Russian release ever, grossing US$16.7 million in Russia alone, thus making more money in Russia than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The sequel, Day Watch, was released across the CIS on January 1, 2006, with a third film in the works. There is also a TV series in production.
The film attracted the attention of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which paid $4 million to acquire the worldwide distribution rights (excluding Russia and the Baltic states) of Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch.
One year after the Russian release, the international distribution began. Other than a London premiere at the Odeon West End as part of the Frightfest horror film festival, that screened amid heavy security on August 28, 2005, the first European country outside CIS was Spain where it was released on September 2, 2005. By mid October it had been released in most European countries, and on February 17, 2006 it had a limited release in the United States, followed by a full release on March 3. By February 13, 2006 (i.e. before the U.S. release) it had grossed US$32 million.
The "international version" of the film debuted in the United Kingdom. In the prologue and epilogue, the Russian voice-over has been dubbed in English, but for the rest of the film features stylized subtitles appearing in odd places around the screen, often animated to emphasise or complement the action. For example, in a scene in which Yegor is being called by a Dark vampire, he is in a pool and the camera is underwater. The caption appears as blood red text that dissolves as blood would in water. In another scene, as a character walks across the scene from left to right, the caption is revealed as his body crosses the screen. In addition, many of the scenes that were present in the Russian theatrical release were omitted, while, at the same time, some scenes were re-cut or added. The International version is shorter by 10 minutes. The DVD was released in the UK on April 24, 2006. The zone 4 DVD had the option of either a Russian or an English audiotrack. Subtitles were simply plain white text at the bottom of the screen. The International version of both Night Watch and its sequel, Day Watch, are now available in HD on Vudu. The HDX encodes are based on the International release and retain the original Russian dialog track with the stylized subtitles.
The original Russian "Director's Cut" of the film was released, apart from Russia, in some European countries on DVD by 20th Century FOX. The only difference of this version from the original Russian version is the absence of the opening credits.
"Nochnoi Bazar" fun re-dub
In 2005, a "fun re-dub" was released under the title "Nochnoi Bazar" ("Night Chat"). The project was initiated by the writer Sergei Lukyanenko as a nod to popular (illegal) fun re-dubs by "Goblin" (Dmitry Puchkov). However, this fun redub was made with full consent of the filmmakers and copyright holders and released on DVD by Channel One Russia. The script was written by the Russian comedian Alexander Bachilo, the song parodies were written and composed by Alexander Pushnoy. The narration was done by Leonid Volodarskiy, a popular voiceover translator of pirated videoreleases in the Soviet Union.
Novel vs. film
The film primarily follows the events of first part ("Story One: Destiny") of the novel Night Watch, with two opening scenes added from later in the series. Although the movie had one of the biggest budgets in the history of Russian filmmaking, there were still restraints on its content, especially given the length of the original three-hundred page, three-part book. Some of the changes made were small and insignificant; others significantly altered the nature of the plot. So, the film doesn't precisely follow the contents of the book - rather, the blockbuster is composed of different episodes, found in both "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" books by Sergei Lukyanenko. In the film certain scenes were reassessed, the plot line (as a chain of episodes and the logical links between them) has been significantly modified.
The subtitles of the English language version reflect some difference in translation: the "gloom" in the film is translated as "twilight" in the book; the name transliterated as "Yegor" in the film is transliterated as "Egor" in the book, and "Zavulon" in the movie is transliterated as "Zabulon" in the book.
- ^ Twilight Watch on IMDb
- ^ Box Office Business at IMDb
- ^ Alain Bielik (February 17, 2006). "Night Watch: Cold Hard VFX from Russia". VFXWorld.com. http://www.awn.com/articles/production/inight-watchi-cold-hard-vfx-russia. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
- ^ Can 'Dusk' follow 'Night'? Fox claims to have snared a Russian Peter Jackson.
- ^ 20th Century Fox to Distribute 'Night Watch' and 'Day Watch' from Russia's Channel One — ORT.
- ^ Review of Frightfest 2005
- ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema". Empire. http://www.empireonline.com/features/100-greatest-world-cinema-films/default.asp?film=100.
- Official website (US)
- Night Watch at the Internet Movie Database
- Night Watch at AllRovi
- Night Watch at Box Office Mojo
- The New York Times: From Russia, with Blood and Shape-Shifters
World of Watches Novels FilmsNight Watch · Day Watch People Other Films directed by Timur Bekmambetov 1990sPeshavar Waltz (1994) 2000s 2010sAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
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