The State Counsellor
Starring: Oleg Menshikov, Nikita
Mikhalkov, Masami Agava-san, Emiliya Spivak, Konstantin Khabensky,
Maria Mironova, Oksana Fandera, Oleg Tabakov, Alexander Strizhenov,
Vladimir Mashkov, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Mikhail
Category: Historical Drama
The State Counsellor is based upon Boris Akunin's novel of
the same name, recounting more of the adventures of Erast Fandorin.
The film is set at the end of the nineteenth century, and the plot
brings together bankers, terrorists, siren beauties and corrupted
officials; of course State Counsellor Erast Petrovich Fandorin and
his Japanese servant are always on hand ready to uphold the cause of
Russian truth and justice.
The Japanese connection is not a surprise to the fans of Boris
Akunin, who in real life is called Grigory Chkhartishvili, and is a
philologist and translator of Japanese.
The novel itself introduces a more mature Fandorin than the
gung-ho adventurer in Turkish Gambit, and perhaps this is why Boris
Akunin agreed to screen the novel only under several conditions. He
insisted that the role of Fandorin should be given only to Oleg
Menshikov, and that all the candidates for acting and directing had
to be agreed with him as well.
The talk is that the film was meant to be
directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, who passed over this responsibility to
Menshikov, who then himself later refused, being too busy. The
project was then given to Filipp Yankovsky, whom Mikhalkov was asked
to supervise. In his turn, Mikhalkov set forth his own conditions:
he wanted the role of the dastardly Prince Pozharsky to be more
nuanced than the all-out bad guy in the novel.
It took a lot of time to find an actor for the role of the
Japanese servant. Yankovsky insisted on ethnical authenticity,
refusing to invite either Yakuts or Kazakhs. Finally, the Japanese
journalist Masami Agava, who works for the Moscow office of Fuji,
was invited to play the role of Masa. In addition to her acting,
Agava also gave Menshikov lessons in Kendo, the art of Samurai
The real talk on set was about Oksana Akinshina, who had
been approved for the role of Fandorin's sweetheart Esfir, but who
somehow forgot the date when shooting started and did not appear.
Yankovsky, beside himself with anger, immediately gave over the role
to Emiliya Spivak.
With Akunin's permission, Yankovsky changed the novel's ending.
In the original book Fandorin refuses an offer of state service; in
the film he agrees, which we think sounds a little too politically
correct. When asked about the change of ending, Yankovsky replied:
"Only the Bible can't be changed. This is only The State