Open main menu

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 Yevgeny (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.

Onegin (film poster).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartha Fiennes
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onEugene Onegin
by Alexander Pushkin
Music byMagnus Fiennes
CinematographyRemi Adefarasin
Edited byJim Clark
Distributed bySamuel Goldwyn Films
Release date
  • 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
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • English
  • French
Budget$14 million[1]
Box office$2.4 million[1]



In early 19th century Russia, a bored St. Petersburg socialite named Onegin inherits his uncle's estate in the country. There, he meets a neighbouring landowner and aspiring poet, Lensky, and a widowed mother and her two daughters. The poet is engaged to the elder daughter Olga. Her sister, Tatiana, writes Onegin a passionate love letter but is cruelly spurned by him apparently due to her lack of social experience. His flirtatious attentions towards Lensky's fiancée leads to a duel. The duel is arranged to take place in a secluded place by a local lake, and unknown to the participants, Tatiana secretly witnesses the duel from a safe distance. She sees the outcome of Lensky taking the first shot and missing his opponent, followed by Onegin taking careful aim and disposing of Lensky with a shot to his opponent's head killing him instantly.

Onegin soon after departs from his country estate. On his return, six years later to St Petersburg, he encounters Tatiana, the woman whom he spurned, who is now a woman of refinement and married to a prince. Onegin begs her forgiveness for his past behaviour and becomes solicitous of her favors. After explaining to him that too much time has now passed, she now refused him and he is in turn now spurned by her.[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 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.


  1. ^ a b "Onegin". 19 November 1999. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Onegin | BFI | BFI". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Onegin Movie Review & Film Summary (2000) - Roger Ebert". Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Kith and Pushkin | Film". 1999-11-19. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  5. ^ Elley, Derek (20 September 1999). "Onegin". Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  6. ^ Onegin at Rotten Tomatoes

External linksEdit