The Winter Queen (2010)

also known as Azazel

About the film . . .

  • Based on a novel by Boris Akunin

  • Update from Quiet Earth - Fyodor Bondarchuk now directing, filming to begin April 2010

  • Cinematical interview with director Paul Verhoeven (February 28, 2007):

    "I hope I can start shooting Azazel in July. Nobody other than Milla Jovovich is attached. It's a detective story based on a Russian novel that was published in the United States about three years ago, in English, under the title The Winter Queen. The real title, the Russian title, is Azazel, which we use now because I think it's more intriguing. Azazel is in fact a Jewish demon and also a scapegoat. And basically, the scapegoat turns into a demon or the other way around, I forgot that. It's a detective story situated in St. Petersburg and in London, around 1876. So its about 130, 140 years ago. It's very modern in its narrative; it's kind of charming, but it's also very deadly. Its about suicides, its about murders, its about terrorism, and global conspiracy. In one book!"

  • About the author (from Wikipedia): Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Chkartishvili, a Russian writer and academic who also worked as a translator of Japanese literature into Russian. Chkartishvili conceived of a series of detective novels demonstrating each of the genres of detective fiction, of which Chkartishvili found 16. Thus the Fandorin series is planned to run through 16 books. Eleven have been published in Russia; The Winter Queen is the first of four that have been translated into English.

  • About the novel (from Wikipedia): The Winter Queen/Azazel was not an immediate success when it was published in 1998 (see Akunin interview), selling only six thousand copies. However, the fifth novel in the Fandorin series, Special Assignments, became a best-seller, as did all the other Fandorin novels thereafter. Azazel has sold fifteen million copies in Russia and many more all over the world. It was made into a television movie in Russia in 2002, and director Paul Verhoeven holds the American film rights. It has also been adapted for the stage in Russia. In 2003, "The Winter Queen" was nominated for the Gold Dagger award.

  • Plot intro (from NY Times): Erast Fandorin, a government clerk turned detective, makes for an unlikely but gifted sleuth in late nineteenth-century Russia. The action opens a few years before the assassination of Czar Alexander II which begins the dark slide to war and revolution. A rich young man has killed himself in Moscow's Alexander Gardens, having spun a single cartridge in a revolver's chamber, pulled the trigger and lost at a game said to have been thought up in the Klondike gold fields and therefore called American roulette. The suicide note ostensibly explains the young man's motive: "Your world nauseates me, and that, truly, is quite reason enough." He has left his fortune to Baroness Margaret Astair, a British educator famed for her world-wide organization of progressive orphanages, which will shift the action for a time to England.


[ For complete credits, check out the Internet Movie Database listing for The Winter Queen ]

Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk

Cast (partial)
Milla Jovovich .... Amalia Bezhetskaya
Anton Yelchin .... Erast Fandorin

Novel by Boris Akunin


The Winter Queen