Onegin (film)

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For the novel of Alexander Pushkin which served as the basis for the film, see Eugene Onegin.
Onegin (film poster).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martha Fiennes
Produced by Simon Bosanquet
Ileen Maisel
Ralph Fiennes
Written by Peter Ettedgui
Michael Ignatieff
Based on Eugene Onegin 
by Alexander Pushkin
Starring Ralph Fiennes
Liv Tyler
Irene Worth
Toby Stephens
Music by Magnus Fiennes
Cinematography Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Jim Clark
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release dates
  • September 18, 1999 (1999-09-18) (TIFF)
  • November 19, 1999 (1999-11-19) (UK)
  • December 31, 1999 (1999-12-31) (US)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $14 million (estimated)[1]
Box office $2,363,845 (USA, UK and Australia gross)[1]

Onegin is a 1999 British-American romantic drama film based on Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin, co-produced by British and American companies and shot mostly in the United Kingdom. Onegin is Martha Fiennes' directorial debut and stars her brother Ralph Fiennes in the role of Yevgeni (Eugene) Onegin, Liv Tyler as Tatiana, Irene Worth as Princess Alina and Toby Stephens as Lensky. Two other Fiennes siblings were involved in the project: Magnus Fiennes wrote the music and Sophie Fiennes appeared in a minor role.


In early 19th century Russia, Onegin, a bored St Petersburg socialite, inherits his uncle's estate in the country. There he meets a neighbouring landowner and poet, and a widowed mother and her two daughters. The poet is engaged to the elder daughter. Her sister writes Onegin a passionate love letter but is cruelly spurned by him. His flirtatious attentions towards the poet's fiancée leads to a duel, and the death of the poet. Onegin disappears. On his return, six years later, he encounters the woman he spurned, who is now married to a prince. Onegin begs her forgiveness for his past behaviour.[2] The film compresses the events of the novel somewhat; for example, the Naming Day celebrations take place on the same day as Onegin's speech to Tatyana. As a result, Onegin's reasons for dancing with Olga and insulting Lensky are left somewhat confusing. Much like the 1988 film version, Onegin gives the impression that, during the duel sequence, Onegin shoots to kill.



Onegin received mixed reviews, with praise for its production values and performances, but criticism was leveled at the pacing and writing. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film and said, 'There is a cool, mannered elegance to the picture that I like, but it's dead at its center. There is no feeling that real feelings are at risk here.'.[3] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, " An earnest but worthwhile attempt to render the Russian writer's tragic and romantic verse novel of 1833 for the screen... we are estranged from the distinctively comic savour of the original. But there still remains much that is worthwhile in this high-minded adaptation."[4] On the more positive side though, Derek Elley of Variety said ' “Onegin” may not appeal to more cynical viewers unprepared to take the emotional leap of faith the movie demands.'[5]

It currently holds a 'rotten' 48% rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[6]


Martha Fiennes received the Best Director Award at the Tokyo Film Festival and the London Film Critics Circle's award for Best Newcomer. Onegin was also nominated for Best British Film at the British Academy Film Awards and Liv Tyler received the Golden Aries prize for Best Foreign Actress from the Russian Guild of Film Critics.


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