The Heritage of Love (in Russian marketed as Герой, or Hero) is a romantic drama that takes place in dual time periods: during the Russian Revolution and the modern 20th century. The film follows the love tale of Duchess Vera Chernisheva played by Svetlana Ivanova, and Officer Andrey Petrovich Dolmatov played by pop singing sensation Dima Bilan, during the Russian Revolution. Juxtaposed is the tale of Andrey Kulikov, Officer Dolmatov’s descendent, and Vera Yezerskaya, a descendent of Duchess Vera Chernisheva, who cross paths and will soon reunite the love their ancestors felt for one another. The important thing to keep in mind while reading, is that the two sets of characters, one being in historic Russia, and the other in modern Paris, are played by the exact same cast, and have the same names.
Below, you can watch a trailer for The Heritage of Love, shared by MonteCristo International Entertainment, as well as a synopsis, and analysis of the film. It is currently available on Amazon Prime TV with English subtitles or on ivi without.
Synopsis of The Heritage of Love
The film opens with Duchess Vera Chernisheva and her family enjoying a lavish lifestyle. Duchess Vera is seen to be quite silly, and “improper” compared to the rest of her aristocratic family. Vera and her sister Irina are excited to learn that their father has a purchased a brand new a Russo-Balt, the first Russian-produced car.
The scene switches to modern times to show young Andrey Kulikov, an auto-mechanic, given news that a lady in Paris wishes to sell that very Russo-Balt. Andrey travels to Paris to meet her. On his way to his hotel, he meets Vera Yezerskaya, and the two instantly have eyes for each other. It is as though fate is drawing them near.
Time switches again to just before the Russian Revolution. White Army Officer Dolmatov is celebrating with fellow officers, while Duchess Vera watches from afar. One of the officers that has had too much to drink, orders an inferior military man to stand with an apple on the top of his head while he shoots it off. Officer Dolmatov, right as he is about to take the shot hurries to fling the officers arm into the air, having no chance of shooting the younger man. Officer Dolmatov then flees after fighting with the drunken officer, and meets Duchess Vera.
Andrey Kulikov in Paris, meanwhile, is lead by a guide to meet the lady. Walking through a cemetery, he notices the face on a headstone looks exactly the same as his newly-met Vera Yezerskaya, and his curiosity grows. He then meets Elizaveta Ivanova, the seller of the Russo-Balt. While it is clear that she is from the royal family of Russia, descended from the family of Duchess Vera, it is unclear exactly who she is.
Back to the aristocrats, Officer Dolmatov tells Duchess Vera that a war has begun and he must depart. He is shown continuously writing to his beloved Vera. He returns to ask her father for her hand in marriage. However, Vera’s father collapses of a heart attack before an answer can be given. Her father had just heard that the Tsar abdicated and the revolution had started.
Chaos ensues with the burning of royal homes and Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin now heading the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. He dismisses the police and opens the prisons, saying he will create a “new Russia.” However, he does not know that the war to come will doom them.
Back in Paris, Andrey Kulikov, offers 300,000 euros for the car. Elizaveta Ivanova wishes to restore her family home, the one that was destroyed during the revolution. Right before she is about to sign the contract, Andrey Kulikov stops her, and admits that the car is priceless and worth much more than he can pay. He then goes to try and find Vera Yezerskaya where he last saw her, but he cannot find her. At the same time, Vera is trying to find him. Andrey then returns to the Russian mechanics shop.
The scene switches to the chaos that continues to occur during the Russian Revolution. Officer Dolmatov and others have been lined up by a firing squad. The firing squad fires, but does not see Dolmatov is still alive. He is rescued and cared for by a woman that he hallucinates is Duchess Vera. After his recovery, he leaves to find her again. He goes to the trains where aristocrats and others have set to leave to Paris to escape the war. After speaking with them, he realizes Vera is not going with them. Rather, she is staying to help those fighting the war as a nurse. Andrey finds her outside of the station, and tells her she must go to Paris.
Officer Dolmatov continues to fight the war in hopes of saving Russia. After being ambushed, he dies from a gunshot. He hands his fellow officer a letter for Vera. The officer then goes to find her, but it is unknown if Vera ever received the letter, because he runs away with her sister Irina, and no mention of Vera is heard again. Rather, Elizaveta Ivanova now has possession of the letter. It is unclear how she received it, and again, if it ever was seen by Vera. While talking to Andrey Kulikov about his great-grandfather, and the tale of Duchess Vera and his unfortunate love story, she gives Kulikov the letter that she says rightfully belongs to him.
In the final scene, Andrey Kulikov is reading the letter his great-grandfather wrote in the same park that he once stood in with Vera Chernisheva. Vera Yezerskaya has finally found Andrey and is running to meet him; the fate of their great-grandparents has brought them together.
Watching The Heritage of Love as an Intermediate Student of Russian
The film The Heritage of Love is a film you cannot take your eyes off of. As scenes jump from the Russian Revolution to modern day Paris, the lives of the two couples are hard to follow at times. More so, the couples are essentially doppelgangers of each other, with the same names. It was certainly a film I had to rewind a couple of times to make sure I understood what was going on.
Combining the historical love stories, however, the film has the feel of the chaotic romanticism often witnessed in Russian literature. For those wishing to learn about Russian history, this will give you some peeks into it if you don’t enjoy documentaries.
According to IMDb, The Heritage of Love received a 4.6 out of 10 star rating. The film also received a 1 out of 5 star rating from The Guardian. Given the film’s seemingly unpleasant ratings, I believe this is due to a general lack of attention. Critics referenced the film as “cliché”, and even “depressing.” The rating I believe can also be due to the very jumpy plot, and character casting as it may be hard to keep up with who is who, in the two sets of characters. Viewers may wonder, is it time travel? Doppelgangers? Descendants? It may be hard to realize what is actually going on while watching. More so, the ending of the film does not show Andrey Kulikov, and Vera realize that their great-grandparents were together, and that they are destined to be. Rather, it is assumed. I’m sure that at least some viewers of the film were upset by this.
The film did win an award for Best Music at the Nika Awards in 2017. The Heritage of Love is a great film for those that enjoy romantic dramas, or enjoy Russian history.
The film The Heritage of Love was originally released on March 31, 2016. The film was produced by Fond Kino, and Mosfilm, and was directed by Yuriy Vasiley. It is currently available on Amazon Prime TV with English subtitles or on ivi without.