Yunost Petra (Peter's Youth) (1981)




Director:     Sergei Gerasimov.

Starring:     Dmitri Zolotukhin (Peter the Great),  Tamara Makarova (Natalya Kirillovna Naryshkina),  Natalya Bondarchuk (Sophya),  Nikolai Yeryomenko Ml.(Aleksandr Menshikov),  Oleg Strizhenov (Vassily Golitzyn),  Vadim Spiridonov (Fedor Shaklovityi),  Mikhail Nozhkin (Boris Golitzin),  Peter Reusse (Franz Lefort),  Ulrike Mai (Anna Mons) Yuriy Moroz (Aleksey Brovkin),  Eduard Bocharov (Ivan Brovkin),  Lyubov Polekhina (Aleksandra Brovkina),  Lyubov Germanova (Yevdokia Lopukhina),  Roman Filippov (Fedor Romodanovskyi).

young Peter the Great


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.



Part I. 

A little girl named Alexandra looks out at the snow covering everything.  She goes back inside and lays next to her siblings, all lined up on top of the warm oven. She gets down again and gets a drink of water.  Outside she sees her father Ivan working on setting up a sled to be drawn by a horse.  Dad has to go see the Boyar (i.e., a member of the highest rank of the Russian aristocracy, second only to the ruling princes; 10th century through 17th century).

She brings water back with her into the house.  She passes the container to her siblings to drink.  Then she gets back on top of the oven.   Dad comes into the kitchen and tells Alexandra to take care of the younger ones and help her mother. 

Dad takes off on his sled.  Another man on his sled catches up with father Ivan.  The other man jumps off his sled and rushes over to sit next to Ivan on his sled.  Ivan says hello to Gypsy. Both of the men are going to see the Boyar.  Ivan tells him:  "One winter is here, we must deliver.  Whether you have it or not."  He also says that his son, Alyoshka, is now working for Volkov.  He had to give his son into kabala for arrears.  Gypsy tells Ivan that he heard from a stranger that the tsar is dead.  They say that the new tsar will be the little boy, Pyotr (Peter) Alexeyevich.  (The great beauty Natalia Naryshkina, daughter of Kirill Poluektovich Naryshkin, married Alexis I of Russia, later becoming the mother of Peter the Great.)

In the palace the talk is also of who will be the new tsar.  The Tsaritsa's godfather is coming back from exile.  Sophia (the third surviving daughter of Tsar Alexis by his first wife, Maria Miloslavskaya and Peter's half-sister) now enters the room with a crown upon her head.  Fyodor Leontyevich tells the Tsarevna that with the exception of Stremyanny, all the regiments support Sophia Alexeyevna.  Every day crowds of Streltsy (Russia's elite military corps) gather at the assembly houses and throw objects at the windows.  The Streltsy won't listen to any orders.  The Streltsy shout out that that they don't want the Naryshkins and Artamon Matveyev ruling.  Sophia hopes the Streltsy will get rid of Matveyev, Yazykov, Likhachyov and the Naryshkins.  She wants the backing of the Streltsy to call her to rule. 

The Streltsy are told that the boyar Matveyev has set out for Moscow.  A Streltsy speaker says they must riot today, because tomorrow could be too late.  A man on a horse associated with Fyodor Leontyevich yells out that Matveyev and the Naryshkins have strangled Tsarevich Ivan!  (Feodor and Ivan were two other sons of Alexis I by the first wife Marya Miloslavska.)  If the Streltsy doesn't hurry, Peter will be strangled too.  The horseman yells for the Streltsy to hurry to the Kremlin. 

The Tsaritsa is very afraid that she and her family will be killed by the Streltsy.  Sophia comes into the room.  She advises the Tsaritsa to make an appearance before the Streltsy crowd.  So the top religious figure goes outside with the Tsaritsa and the children and shouts down to the Streltsy:  who lied to you?  Who lied that the tsar and tsarevich have been strangled?  He holds in his hands the boy Tsar Pyotr Alexeyevich!  Then Tsarevich Ivan makes an appearance. 

The Streltsy push for Peter and Ivan ruling together, both under the regency of Sophia.  The Streltsy, however, aren't done yet.  They kill one of Peter's uncles.  They also get Matveyev.  Then they grab one of the holy men and throw him over a wall and onto the pikes of some of the soldiers. 

Peter likes to play soldiers with some of the Streltsy.  Peter's mother asks Nikita Moisesyuvich if they have had their afternoon snack?  

Sophia has a very close relationship with a blonde haired man known as Vasily Vasilyevich (aka Prince Golitsyn).  She tells him that her Uncle Ivan Mikhailovich was talking to Vasily about some project Vasily wanted to do.  She suggests he be cautious for now about any big projects.  She adds"  "Everyone has only one thing on their mind  --to war for Crimea. . . . When you come back victorious, you can do whatever you like.  Then you'll be stronger than the strongest.  And we'll stop hiding from shame."

Sophia also tells Vasily that Peter is almost 17 years of age now.  She's worried about his coming to power.  The general says the talk is "that a strong tsar is growing up in Preobrazhenskoye."  (Preobrazhenskoye District is a district of Moscow located in Eastern Administrative Okrug. It is named after Preobrazhenskoye village where the residence of Alexis of Russia and Peter I of Russia was located.  The district is considered to be the cradle of the Russian Navy. Peter I spent his childhood years here with his mother Natalia Naryshkina after tsarevna Sophia Alekseyevna sent them into exile in Preobrazhenskoye.)

The Tsaritsa says that the Tsar has gotten lost.  Men are sent out to find Peter.  Some peasants say Peter got into a boat and seems to be headed to Kukui.  And that's exactly what's happening.

Peter is welcomed to Kukui.  (German Quarter was a neighborhood in northeast Moscow, located on the right bank of the Yauza River east of Kukuy within present-day Basmanny District of Moscow.)  His host Franz wants to show him the latest developments in industry.  And he also shows Peter the daughter of wine merchant Johann Mons. The pretty blonde is strumming a string instrument and singing in honor of Peter while she is rowed past him in a boat.  Franz then takes Peter to the house of Johann Mons.  There he meets the singing girl in the boat named Anna Mons. 

The envoy searching for Peter finds him and tells him he must return home because his mother is very worried about him.  This only makes Peter mad and he kicks the messenger, calling him a lackey.  But then he tells his host Franz that he has to go home.  He asks:  "Franz, can you make a real army for me?"   Franz says it can be done, but it will take a lot of time.  Peter tells him if he can make an army, he will make Franz a general in the army.

Franz builds two fortresses.  Peter says if they need two, then Franz can build two fortresses.  Peter then goes back to work, throwing dirt into a wheel barrow with a wooden shovel. 

Peter's mother worries about Peter's hot temper.  She says it would be good for Peter to marry.  She adds that Larion Lopukhin has a 16 year old daughter, known as Yevdokiya, who is marriageable.  Peter comes into the room asking about the rumor that the Tatars set the steppe on fire.  And Golitsyn  stood there for awhile, and then he retreated.  It sure doesn't seem that Golitsyn has conquered the Crimea. 

(Vasily Vasilyevich (Prince Golitshyn) was Sophia's main adviser.  When Sophia became regent in 1682, she appointed her lover Golitsyn head of the foreign office. He negotiated an alliance with Poland (1686) against the Ottoman Turks but failed in his two campaigns against the Turks, in 1687 and 1689).

Franz is honored by his German comrades for becoming General Lefort (appointed by Peter).  Peter arrives late to the festivities.  There are fireworks, music and dance.  Peter dances with Anna Mons.

The Germans think they will benefit from a good relationship with Peter, but there's a problem.  Sophia will not let Peter take the throne.  She is a very resolute character, as testified by her sending 200,000 troops to fight with the Crimean Khan again. 

Peter grabs Anna Mons and really kisses her.  She pulls away from him, but then kisses him on the lips.  Then she runs away again.  This time Peter can't find her.  A young man tells Peter that the girl went home, but he will take him to her.  They walk over to the house and the young man gets her attention for Peter.  Anna tells Peter to go to bed.  The young man tells Peter that the girl is afraid, that's all.  Now Peter takes a huge mug and downs a lot of alcohol.  Peter tells the young man that he now works for him. 

The young man, Alexander Danilovich, brings a drummer over to Peter to demonstrate his drumming skills.  Peter says the drummer will drum for First Company.  Vasily comes over and tells Alexander that this drummer is his runaway serf, Alyoshka Brovkin.   Alexander tells Alyoshka to head over to First Company. 

The bookkeeper complains to Alexander Danilovich that it was wrong of him to pay 9 kopeks for fir poles when they are worth only 3.  Alexander tells the man that the fir poles cost more because they were needed urgently.  The keeper of the books warns Alexander that one day he is going to be hanged for stealing.  Alexander brings a letter to Peter from Anna Mons.  Peter discovers that Alexander knows too much of the contents of the letter and warns him about taking too many liberties. 

Peter tells Alexander that they (Sophia and her supporters) are going to kill him.  He says they already tried to poison him and sent an assassin with a knife after him.  Alexander says the Streltsy are not too happy with Sophia.  Peter talks about heading to Holland and becoming a watchmaker.  Alexander says:  "And you can forget about Anna Ivanovna then.  Too bad she's a German, a Lutheran."

Peter, Anna and Franz are together with others dancing to music. 

Peter comes in to talk with his mother.  She asks him not to get mad, but she thinks it would be good for Peter to marry.  Peter is upset.  He says he just doesn't have the time.  Mother says she has chosen a sweet girl for him. 

Peter goes to see Anna Mons.  She has been crying about something (probably over the news that Peter will marry someone else than her).  The couple embrace each other.

Two horsemen come riding up in the snow.  A third horseman comes riding hard saying:  "Let's go to Pyatnitsa, we'll meet them there."  All three horsemen take off together. 

It's a wedding!  The tsar is getting married.  The bride does not look happy at all about the wedding.  The priest blesses the bride and the mother kisses her daughter.   Peter is marrying Yevdokiya.  Through the wedding and to the marital bed, Yevdokiya just looks sad. 


Part II.

Father Ivan and the now grown Alexandra are at the fair. Dad sees his old friend Gypsy.  He calls to him and Gypsy comes over.  Father asks if they defeated the Tatars?  Gypsy says:  "Laying down 20,000 of our troops near Perekop and as many on our way back."  Ivan tells Gypsy that he better keep quiet about the defeat. 

A fellow talks to Miskka.  He tells Mishka to tell the people that the Tsaritsa and Lev Kirillovich have bought up all the wheat in order to starve the people of Moscow.

A clerk reads the news to the people.  Prince Vasily Golitsyn is praised for having routed, conquered and ousted the enemy!  Gypsy yells out that it was us who were defeated!   We fled from the Tatars.  Someone else shouts that the Prince conquered Sophia.  Another shouts:  "He's only good at fighting a woman in bed!"  People start throwing things at the clerk, calling him "Golitsyn's lackey".

Mishka now comes riding up to the crowd shouting that the Tsaritsa and Lyovka Naryshkin have bought up all the bread and the people will soon die.  This makes the crowd and the Streltsy mad and they threaten to pull Mishka off his horse.  Mishka pulls out his saber and tells the crowd to step back.  The crowd starts to disperse. 

Gypsy wants to join two thieves in order to get some money.

Three Streltsy conspire with each other.  One man says that he saw Fyodor Leontyevich Shaklovity and he told the guys that the Tsarevna rewards them for their faithful service with five rubbles each.  Fyodor says that they want to send the Streltsy out to different towns to oust him as the Streltsy commander and banish the Tsarevna to a convent.    And the Tsaritsa Natalya Kirillovna is the worst of the trouble makers.  Her plan is to give Ivan a slow-acting potion.  One of the guys asks about Golitsyn.  The speaker says the backers of Peter fear only Golitsyn, but the Boyars are ready to sacrifice him for the Crimean debacle. 

What are they to do?  They have to be careful.  Seven years ago they killed a lot of people, but never destroyed their roots.  The fellow suggests that they must get rid of the Tsaritsa and Peter. They should select 50 loyal men and set fire to Preobrazhenskoye at night.  Then they can stab the Tsaritsa and Peter. 

Peter's wife complains to her aide that her mother-in-law is too hard on her, always finding a fault to criticize.  And her husband ran away from her to Pereyaslavl Lake in the second month of marriage.  The Tsaritsa asked her:  "Are you mouldy, or just stupid . . .?"

Uncle Tomcat Kirillovich rides out to the lake to see Peter.  He tells Peter that he has to get to Moscow.  There are over 100 Streltsy on the opposite bank of the Yauza River.  Peter seems to have an attack of something because he goes a little bit crazy and the men around Peter have to hold him down.

Prince Golitsyn is told that they expect Peter to come to Moscow with his toy army.  The army has 3,000 or more men.  Fyodor tells him that if he doesn't act now, soon it will be too late.  Then, he says:  "It's our head that will be impaled."  He adds that they have caught one of Peter's scouts, Volkov, and the tsarevna wants the Prince to interrogate him.  Golitsyn only says that he is ill. 

Fyodor and the Tsarevna interrogate Volkov.  They ask if Peter and the Tsaritsa are in good health?  Does Peter's army have enough ammunition?  Volkov won't talk, so the Tsarevna tells her staff to have his cut off!  The staff turn Volkov over to a Streltsy and tell the soldier to go get an executioner.   When Volkov is alone with the Streltsy, the soldier tells him he is free to go.  Volkov starts running. 

Peter refers to his half-sister Sophia as:  "The bloodthirsty butcheress."  A Streltzy comes to tell Peter that an immense forced has gathered together.  "The tocsin is sounding from the Spasskaya Tower!"  (A tocsin is an alarm or bell.)  Peter and two men ride off to the Trinity Monastery. 

Fyodor Leontyevich tells the Tsarevna that Peter has been driven out of the Preobrazhensky Palace.  He rode with no pants to the Trinity monastery.  In addition, the Streltsy regiments of Lavrenty Sukharev and Ivan Tsykler have now sided with Peter.  The fear is that other regiments are about to go over to Peter too.  Fyodor tells her that they missed their chance and now it's too late.  "You should send the Patriarch to talk your brother into making peace."  Then they might get their chance to kill Peter. 

The Streltsy see Boris Golitsyn going against his half-brother to support Peter.  

Peter officiates at a ceremony.  Later he talks with General Lefort and tells him:  "I feel ashamed of having run from Sonka (Sophia) just in my shirt."

The Tsaritsa is told that Sophia is at Vozdvizhenskoye (in Stavropol, Russia).

Volkov comes to tell a surprised Sophia that she should not go to Trinity Monastery.  Peter wants her to remain here for his messenger, Prince Ivan Borisovich Troyekurov.  His own orders are not to let Sophia leave Vozdvizhenskoye.  Father Boyar arrives with the order that Sophia must go to Moscow.  Also, Peter has Fyodor Leontyevich in his possession.  If Sophia does enter the monastery, Peter says he will dishonor her.  Sophia falls to the floor. 

Fyodor Leontyevich has his hands tied above his head.  Peter grills him relentlessly about his plots against the Tsar.  Fyodor points the finger of blame at Prince Golitsyn. 

Prince Golitsyn is found.  Peter takes away the prince's boyar's rank and honors.  He and his family will be sent into eternal exile in Kargopol. 

Sophia is told that Peter and Ivan are of age now and so she can no longer be their regent.  And Sophia will no longer be their equal.  Sophia is sent to a monastery. 

Peter has a triumphant horseback ride through the streets of Moscow.   He now has to stand up to the representatives of the church and of the boyars.  He does so and establishes himself as the tsar in charge of the Russias. 

A big dinner is set up for Peter to talk with important foreign politicians and businessmen.  Anna Mons is also there.  When Peter comes in, she rushes to him, curtsies and says she is so glad to see him again.  Peter responds:  "And for me, being with you is my only joy."  They walk arm in arm to greet the important people at the dinner. 

Peter's obviously pregnant wife tells a tea leaf reader that Peter has changed so much since he came home from the monastery.  He will not even listen to her.  The tea leaf reader sees the face of a German woman, a viper in the tea cup.  She says all of Moscow speaks of the relationship, but they are all afraid to tell the Tsaritsa.  A woman comes in to say that the Tsar is here.  The tea leaf reader disappears now.  Peter comes in and asks how is Dunya doing?  She now lets it all out about his affair with the German woman.  Peter gets mad, calls her a fool and leaves the room. 

Peter travels on a boat with a rowing crew and he is nearing Arkhangelsk.  As he nears the town ,the other ships, some from foreign lands, fire off a salute.  Peter lights his small cannon and it makes its booming sound.  Now lots of ships fire their cannon. 

Peter tells Franz that he wants to buy two ships in Holland to transport goods themselves.  Franz responds:  "You're ready for glorious deeds."  He suggests to the Tsar that the Black Sea and the Azov Sea should be a part of Russia.  He goes on to say that Peltenburg couldn't believe that Russia was still paying tribute to the Crimean Khan.  That must stop.

Still on the boat, Peter gets a report of complaints about a certain governor.  Peter shouts to hang the governor in the market place.  He now has an aide write down the following ukase (an edit of the Tsar):  "In all towns trades people, merchants and industrialists are to be announced my ukase.  Governors and clerks no longer have any authority over their affairs.  This authority is vested in bailiffs.  And they shall elect among themselves good and honest people to be bailiffs, whoever they want and how many they want."

Ivashka Artemyevich Brovkin (aka, Ivan Artemyevich), a new Moscow merchant with a petition would like to see the Tsar.  The man comes in and bows before the Tsar.  He says that the government is building ships on the Dvina.  But the merchants want the Tsasr to forbid the merchants from selling their goods to foreigners.  He says the foreign merchants are ruining them economically speaking.  Peter says that by winter he will have two ships built and he is buying another ship in Amsterdam.  The merchants will bring their goods to the ships.  But there must be no fraud.  Ivan agrees to this.  Now Peter is pleased and he has Andrei Andreyevich write the ukase.  Ivan is now told he can leave. 

Another report is about the thieves caught near Ryazan.  One of the thieves is a run-away servant and another is a blacksmith named Kuzma Zhemov.  Moreover, a carriage carrying state money was robbed on Troitsky Road.  Arrested was Styopka Odoyevsky, a son of a nobleman.  Peter gets so mad over the opposition to him by the boyars that he almost has one of his fits. 

The aide says there are only two more letters to go over and the letters are from the Tsaritsas.  The first one is from his son Alyoshka, who asks his father to return to them without delay.   Grandmother Tsaritsa is in great grief.  Peter tells the aide to write that Peter is waiting for the Hamburg ships.  Furthermore, he is healthy and doesn't go to the sea.  So the Tsaritsa doesn't need to worry about him.  In addition, he will not be returning to them soon. 


Good film.  Dmitri Zolotukhin (as the impetuous and quick to anger Peter the Great) did a very good job.  Peter has a bloody rise to power.  When the Streltsy rose on behalf of tsarevna Sophia, Peter saw a great many of his supporters and family die. This, undoubtedly, contributed to his later paranoia about being surrounded by enemies all to willing to kill him.  Peter always seemed to be in a rush running from one appointment to another.  And Peter was a very serious young man wishing to bring Russia out of the Dark Ages. 

Peter's biggest rival was the regent Sophia.  She was gathering her supporters together to be able to strike at Peter and his forces whenever necessary.  Her closest adviser and lover, Prince Golitsyn, proved to be very unreliable.  He was defeated in battle by the Crimean Khan.  And after that it was as if he had run out of gas.  He kept saying that he was ill.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




tsaritsa - the wife or widow of a czar.

tsarevitch  --  a son of a Russian tsar, esp. the eldest son.

tsarevna  --  a daughter of a Russian tsar; or the wife of a Russian tsarevitch.


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