Night Watch (2004 film)
Night Watch is a 2004 Russian supernatural thriller film directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Timur Bekmambetov
Timur Nuruakhitovich Bekmambetov is a Kazakh-born director, producer and screenwriter who has worked on films and commercials. He is mostly popular for the Russian film Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch , and the American film Wanted .-Early life:Bekmambetov was born on June 25, 1961 in the...

. It is loosely based on the novel The Night Watch
Night Watch (Lukyanenko novel)
Night Watch is a fantasy novel by Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko published in 1998...

by Sergei Lukyanenko, and is the first part of a trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

, followed by Day Watch and ending supposedly with Twilight Watch (although the rights for it were acquired by FOX, production has not started yet).


In the prologue
A prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance...

, which is set in medieval times, humans with extra powers are called Others
Others (Night Watch)
The Others are a fictional group of people with supernatural abilities in Sergey Lukyanenko's Watches novel tetralogy...

 (Иные, иной; Inyye, Inoy). The Others are proponents of either light or dark and confront each other to do battle. Geser, lord of light, realizes that the two forces are evenly matched and both will be destroyed. In parley with Zavulon, general of Dark, the two agree to a truce in which the light will form a Night Watch and the dark a Day Watch to maintain the balance before the coming of the Great One who will choose either Light or Dark and thereby bring one to prominence.

In modern Russia, when his wife leaves him for another man, Anton Gorodetsky goes to see an old woman, Daria, whom he believes will be able to bring her back. Daria tells him that his wife is pregnant by the other man and that she must be made to miscarry, because if she gives birth she will return to the other man. Anton accepts responsibility for this. Daria prepares a drink involving Anton's blood which he drinks. The shot cuts to his wife telling the other man they have to split up. Daria starts to recite an incantation to induce an abortion, and Anton's wife on a distant boat collapses and clutches at her womb. Just as the incantation is about to be complete, two figures become visible in the room, and a third appears at the door, who shapeshifts into a tiger, and restrains the old woman. They express surprise when Anton sees them and note that he must be an "Other". Twelve years later, Anton has become a member of the Night Watch along with the three figures. At Anton's request, Kostya, his neighbor, takes him to his father, a butcher, to procure blood for Anton to drink. The father does so reluctantly, and after Anton leaves he says that the Night Watch only drink blood when they are hunting a vampire, such as themselves.

A twelve-year-old boy, Yegor, is hearing "The Call" - a psychic call by a vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

 who intends to feed. Anton tracks Yegor, being able to hear the call as he nears Yegor, thanks to the blood he drank. On the way he sees a blond woman with her hair flying about even though she is inside a subway train with no airflow. Realizing she is under a deadly curse, Anton uses a magical flashlight to attempt to remove it but fails. Two vampires are about to feed on Yegor when Anton arrives, and he is attacked by the male vampire, whom Anton can see only in a mirror. Anton wounds the female vampire with the remaining enegies of the flashlight, forcing her to hide. The other members of the Night Watch arrive and turn on the lights on their truck, which have been enchanted like Anton's flashlight. Anton then picks up a mirror shard and directs the light from the truck towards the male vampire's chest, destroying him. A member of the Day Watch arrives and reveals that the Day Watch are aware of the murder of one of their dark ones.

Anton is healed by Geser, who notes that he could have solved things more easily by entering into the Twilight - a shadow world only available for the Others. After Anton tells him about the woman in the subway, he reveals a legend about a virgin who was cursed and people and animals around her died or sickened, she was accompanied by a vortex of damnation. Either this virgin, who has been reborn, must die, or they must find who cursed her. Geser gives Anton an assistant called Olga, in the shape of a stuffed owl. Anton refuses and laughs, until he sees Geser throw it out the window, whereupon it turns into a living owl that flies away. At Anton's apartment, the owl arrives and shapeshifts into a woman. Kostya arrives and says he knows that Anton killed the vampire Dark Other. Anton and Olga track Yegor to his home, where they must enter the Twilight, as Yegor is there hiding from the female vampire. The Twilight almost takes Yegor, but a blood sacrifice from Anton distracts it enough for them to escape. Emerging from the Twilight, Anton sees a photo of Yegor and his mother, Anton's wife of twelve years ago. Night Watch members Tiger and Bear arrive to protect Yegor, but they start kissing and the boy follows the call of the female vampire.

Anton and Olga go to a command and control center set up near the apartment of the woman, Svetlana, from the subway train. A vortex, capable of immense destruction, has appeared over her apartment and bad things have been happening to those near her. Anton discovers that Daria had lied to him and that the boy he tried to abort was in fact his own son, not his wife's lover's. Therefore, Yegor is Anton's son. Anton enters Svetlana's apartment and talks with her, whereby it is revealed that she cursed herself, meaning she is an Other. This revealed, the curse ends and the vortex disappears. Yegor escapes the grips of the female vampire and tries to save Anton's life after Zavulon enters from the roof. During a duel, Anton attempts to stab Zavulon, but Zavulon sidesteps the swipe just as Yegor runs up. Zavulon stops Anton's momentum, both saving Yegor's life and making it appear as if Anton were attempting to kill his son. Zavulon's assistant reads Anton's personal file aloud, and hearing that Anton tried to kill him before he was born, Yegor, revealed to be the Great One, willingly turns to the Dark, to Anton's dismay.


  • Konstantin Khabenskiy as Anton Gorodetsky
  • Vladimir Menshov
    Vladimir Menshov
    Vladimir Valentinovich Menshov is a Soviet and Russian actor and film director. He is noted for depicting the Russian everyman and working class life in his films. Like many other Russian filmmakers, he studied acting and directing at the state film school VGIK, the world's oldest educational...

     as Geser
  • Valeriy Zolotukhin as Kostya's father
  • Maria Poroshina as Svetlana
  • Galina Tyunina as Olga
  • Yuriy "Gosha" Kutsenko as Ignat
  • Aleksei Chadov as Kostya
  • Zhanna Friske
    Zhanna Friske
    Jeanna Vladimirovna Friske , better known under her stage name Zhanna Friske, is a Russian film actress, singer, and socialite.-Career:...

     as Alicia Donnikova
  • Ilya Lagutenko as Andrei
  • Viktor Verzhbitsky
    Viktor Verzhbitsky
    Viktor Verzhbitsky, born 21 September 1959, in Tashkent, Soviet Union . Viktor is well known for playing the role of Zavulon in the 2004 film Night Watch and it's 2006 sequel Day Watch. He has been relatively active as an actor on both the small screen and large screen since 1994 when he starred in...

     as Zavulon


The film was the first big-budget Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 film and one of the first blockbusters
Blockbuster (entertainment)
Blockbuster, as applied to film or theatre, denotes a very popular or successful production. The entertainment industry use was originally theatrical slang referring to a particularly successful play but is now used primarily by the film industry...

 made after the collapse of the Soviet film industry. The film was produced by Channel One
Channel One (Russia)
Channel One is the first television channel to broadcast in the Soviet Union. The channel was renamed Ostankino Channel 1 in 1991, after the Soviet Union broke up and the Russian SFSR became the Russian Federation. According to a recent government publication, the Russian government controls 51%...

, the government-owned TV channel, with a budget of US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

4.2 million. It was shot in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio
Aspect ratio (image)
The aspect ratio of an image is the ratio of the width of the image to its height, expressed as two numbers separated by a colon. That is, for an x:y aspect ratio, no matter how big or small the image is, if the width is divided into x units of equal length and the height is measured using this...


Part of the challenge for such a big-budget fantasy film was creating hundreds of visual effects
Visual effects
Visual effects are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shoot. Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or...

 (VFX) shot
Shot (film)
In film, a shot is a continuous strip of motion picture film, created of a series of frames, that runs for an uninterrupted period of time. Shots are generally filmed with a single camera and can be of any duration. A shot in production, defined by the beginning and end of a capturing process, is...

s to which a modern audience is accustomed. 16 Russian VFX studios and several freelancers were used, each chosen for their individual strengths. Many shots were created by different artists across different time zone
Time zone
A time zone is a region on Earth that has a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social purposes. In order for the same clock time to always correspond to the same portion of the day as the Earth rotates , different places on the Earth need to have different clock times...

s, using the Internet to share data and images.


The film contains several songs from rock bands, e.g. "Jack" by the Belarusian group TT-34
TT-34 is an alternative rock band from Belarus. They are popular in Russia and have recorded several songs with the Belarusian singer Seryoga. Some of their music was used on the soundtrack of Night Watch, a 2004 film which was a blockbuster in Russia and was, in 2006, released in the U.S. by Fox...

, "Spanish" by Drum Ecstasy group etc.
The song played in the credits of the international version of the movie is called "Shatter" and performed by the Welsh rock band Feeder
-Technology:* Feeder , any of several devices used in apiculture to supplement or replace natural food sources* Feeder , another name for a riser, a reservoir built into a metal casting mold to prevent cavities due to shrinkage...

. The track was a top 20 hit single in the United Kingdom charting at #11 in 2005, to coincide with the international release of the film. The song playing during the end credits of the American release of Night Watch is "Fearless" by The Bravery.
In the original Russian version it is a rap which summarizes the movie plot in a funny way.

Release and reception

After a first appearance at the Moscow Film Festival on June 27, 2004, it went on general cinema release across the CIS
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

 on July 8, 2004. The film was extremely successful, becoming the highest-grossing Russian release ever, grossing US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

16.7 million in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 alone, thus making more money in Russia than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The sequel, Day Watch, was released across the CIS on January 1, 2006, with a third film in the works. There is also a TV series in production.

The film attracted the attention of Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures, established in 1998, is a film division of Fox Filmed Entertainment alongside the larger Fox studio 20th Century Fox...

, which paid $4 million to acquire the worldwide distribution rights (excluding Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

) of Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch.

International release

One year after the Russian release, the international distribution began. Other than a London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 premiere at the Odeon West End as part of the Frightfest horror film festival, that screened amid heavy security on August 28, 2005, the first European country outside CIS was Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 where it was released on September 2, 2005. By mid October it had been released in most European countries, and on February 17, 2006 it had a limited release in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, followed by a full release on March 3. By February 13, 2006 (i.e. before the U.S. release) it had grossed US$32 million.
The "international version" of the film debuted in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. In the prologue and epilogue, the Russian voice-over
Voice-over is a production technique where a voice which is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations...

 has been dubbed
Dubbing (filmmaking)
Dubbing is the post-production process of recording and replacing voices on a motion picture or television soundtrack subsequent to the original shooting. The term most commonly refers to the substitution of the voices of the actors shown on the screen by those of different performers, who may be...

 in English, but for the rest of the film features stylized subtitles
Subtitle (captioning)
Subtitles are textual versions of the dialog in films and television programs, usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. They can either be a form of written translation of a dialog in a foreign language, or a written rendering of the dialog in the same language, with or without added...

 appearing in odd places around the screen, often animated to emphasise or complement the action. For example, in a scene in which Yegor is being called by a Dark vampire, he is in a pool and the camera is underwater. The caption appears as blood red text that dissolves as blood would in water. In another scene, as a character walks across the scene from left to right, the caption is revealed as his body crosses the screen. In addition, many of the scenes that were present in the Russian theatrical release were omitted, while, at the same time, some scenes were re-cut or added. The International version is shorter by 10 minutes. The DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

 was released in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 on April 24, 2006. The zone 4
DVD region code
DVD region codes are a digital-rights management technique designed to allow film distributors to control aspects of a release, including content, release date, and price, according to the region...

 DVD had the option of either a Russian or an English audiotrack. Subtitles were simply plain white text at the bottom of the screen. The International version of both Night Watch and its sequel, Day Watch
Day Watch
Day Watch , is a 2006 Russian dark fantasy action film marketed as "the first film of the year", opened in theatres across Russia on January 1, 2006, the U.S. on June 1, 2007 and the UK on October 5, 2007. It is a sequel to the 2004 film Night Watch, featuring the same cast...

, are now available in HD on Vudu. The HDX encodes are based on the International release and retain the original Russian dialog track with the stylized subtitles.

The original Russian "Director's Cut" of the film was released, apart from Russia, in some European countries on DVD by 20th Century FOX. The only difference of this version from the original Russian version is the absence of the opening credits.

"Nochnoi Bazar" fun re-dub

In 2005, a "fun re-dub" was released under the title "Nochnoi Bazar" ("Night Chat"). The project was initiated by the writer Sergei Lukyanenko as a nod to popular (illegal) fun re-dubs by "Goblin" (Dmitry Puchkov
Dmitry Puchkov
Dmitry Yuryevich Puchkov , also known as Goblin and Starshiy Operupolnomocheniy Goblin, is an English-to-Russian movie and video game translator, script-writer, and author...

). However, this fun redub was made with full consent of the filmmakers and copyright holders and released on DVD by Channel One Russia. The script was written by the Russian comedian Alexander Bachilo, the song parodies were written and composed by Alexander Pushnoy. The narration was done by Leonid Volodarskiy
Leonid Volodarskiy
Leonid Veniaminovitch Volodarskiy , Russian translator, writer and weekly radio show author.Graduated from Maurice Thorez Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages...

, a popular voiceover
VoiceOver is a screen reader built into Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X, iOS and iPod operating systems. By using VoiceOver, the user can access their Macintosh or iOS device based on spoken descriptions and, in the case of the Mac, the keyboard. The feature is designed to increase accessibility for blind...

 translator of pirated videoreleases in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....


Novel vs. film

The film primarily follows the events of first part ("Story One: Destiny") of the novel Night Watch, with two opening scenes added from later in the series. Although the movie had one of the biggest budgets in the history of Russian filmmaking, there were still restraints on its content, especially given the length of the original three-hundred page, three-part book. Some of the changes made were small and insignificant; others significantly altered the nature of the plot. So, the film doesn't precisely follow the contents of the book - rather, the blockbuster is composed of different episodes, found in both "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" books by Sergei Lukyanenko. In the film certain scenes were reassessed, the plot line (as a chain of episodes and the logical links between them) has been significantly modified.

The subtitles of the English language version reflect some difference in translation: the "gloom" in the film is translated as "twilight" in the book; the name transliterated as "Yegor" in the film is transliterated as "Egor" in the book, and "Zavulon" in the movie is transliterated as "Zabulon" in the book.


  • Ranked #100 in Empire
    Empire (magazine)
    Empire is a British film magazine published monthly by Bauer Consumer Media. From the first issue in July 1989, the magazine was edited by Barry McIlheney and published by Emap. Bauer purchased Emap Consumer Media in early 2008...

    magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.

External links

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