I am not sure how many people outside of Russia know Admiral Kolchak. I’m afraid not a great many. At least I did not know him. But not knowing this historical figure may lead to an odd situation. Either people watch this movie for the wrong reasons and will be disappointed or they might not watch it at all. This would actually be a pity since The Admiral is a very sumptuous movie. Beautifully filmed and very gripping.
As stated in the title The Admiral is not a Russian Master & Commander. After the initial ten minutes of naval battle scenes there is no more fighting on ships. These initial ten minutes however are very gruesome and intense. After this sequence the movie starts to resemble Anna Karenina for many reasons. It is a beautiful tale of tragic adulterous love and full of portents, like the breaking glass at the ball in the beginning which reminded me of the accident scene in Anna Karenina. (By pure chance I have just very recently watched Anna Karenina, that is why I realised how very similar they are with regards to the love story apart from the fact that this is a true story.)
The love story between Kolchak and Anna, who are both married when they meet, is only one part of the movie. It is interwoven with the part that follows Admiral Kolchak. 1917 after he has successfully fought the Germans at sea, the Russian Revolution strikes and changes everything for the aristocracy. Kolchak flees to Japan and returns after a few months to head the anti-Bolshevik white troops that were to fight the Red troops. This is the beginning of the Russian Civil War that we see in all its ugliness. If Kolchak had been succesful there would maybe never have been a Soviet Union. Well, he was not successful. In the end he is taken prisoner and sentenced. Anna, the woman he loves, follows him even though they would have let her go. Quite a sacrifice.
It is quite a fascinating story and I have a feeling I am not doing it justice here. If you are interested in history, and especially Russian history, you should watch it. If you like tragic love stories then you should watch it as well.
My only reservations regard the flow. There a quite a few breaks in the movie, it seems a bit disrupted at times.
Do not watch the trailer as it is highly misleading and gives the impression of a pure naval combat movie.