Cinephile Movies

The Silver Skates (Cinephile #10)


Director: Michael Lockshin


  • Petr Anurov
  • Leonid Vereshchagin
  • Anton Zlatopolskiy
  • Rafael Minasbekyan
  • Nikita Mikhalkov
  • Grigoriy Stoyalov

Screenplay by: Roman Kantor

Based on: Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge


  • Fedor Fedotov
  • Sofya Priss
  • Kirill Zaytsev
  • Yuri Borisov
  • Aleksei Guskov
  • Severija Janusauskaite
  • Yuri Kolokolnikov
  • Timofey Tribuntsev
  • Alexandra Revenko

Music by: Guy Farley

Edit by:

  • Maria Likhacheva
  • Dmitry Slobtsov

Production Companies:

  • Central Partnership
  • KIT Film Studio
  • Kinoslovo
  • Studio TriTe
  • Russia-1
  • CGF Company
  • AvtoRadio
  • Gazprom-Media
  • Cinema Fund

Distributed by:

  • Central Partnership
  • Netflix (International)

Release date: 10 December 2020

Running time: 136 minutes

Country: Russia

Language: Russian, English, French

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

My rating: 9/10

Movie Summary

On Christmas Eve, 1899, Imperial Saint Petersburg’s frozen rivers and canals transform the capital city into a fairytale-like wonderland, with bustling festivities on the ice. The city is home to 18-year-old Matvey Polyakov who works as an ice-skating delivery boy at a local bakery. The son of a poor lamplighter, his only treasure is a pair of silver-plated skates he inherited from his father.

When Matvey is unjustly fired due to his failure to deliver an order on time, he joins a gang of pickpockets named the Ice Gang who work in the canals and are led by the revolutionary-minded Alex.

Meanwhile, Alisa, a high-ranking official’s daughter feels like a prisoner in her father’s mansion. She dreams of studying science which goes against her father’s conservative views on a woman’s role in society.

One day their paths cross…

Character Development

Matvey is an ice skating courier at a local popular bakery. When he is unfairly fired he joins a gang of pick pockets to make a living and help his sick father get an expensive treatment in Germany.

Alisa is the privileged only daughter of the tsar’s minister. Although raised in a pampered yet conservative way she wants more than being a wife and mother. She secretly studies chemistry and her goal is to enroll at Bestuzhev Courses, the only institution that accepts female students. She asks Matvey’s help as the consent of a male companion or father is required. Their interaction proves life changing for the two of them.

Alex is the leader of the Ice Gang and the one who decides to give Matvey a place in the group. Like the rest of the gang, he is a marxist who believes that taking away the wealth of the rich is the right thing to do due to the oppression the lower classes face.


The central theme of the film is the difference between the various classes in Russian society. Through the relationship of Matvey and Alisa we are shown how people of lower classes struggle to make ends meet while the higher classes lead a life full of luxury and enjoyment.

Love in all it’s forms -romantic, parental, friendship- connects the characters and impacts their attitude and decisions.

Various social issues such as sickness and women’s higher education are touched upon masterfully. Matvey’s father suffers from a fatal disease and his only hope for a cure seems impossible due to his low income. On the other hand, Alisa wants to study chemistry despite her father’s conservative views on the role of women.

Last but not least, marxist ideals are displayed through the Ice Gang and their lifestyle.

My Thoughts

Silver Skates is a stunning romantic tale set in the frozen canals of Saint Petersburg on the turn of 20th centure. Featuring ice skating gangs and an intricate love between a courier-turned-thief and a feminist aristocrat girl, it is as intriguing and fairytale-like as a period film can be.

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