‘Silver Skates’ is a romantic period drama film about two young lovers, Matvey and Alisa (Matthew and Alice in the English dub), from socially and economically different backgrounds and their quest to unite despite the various personal problems they face in 1899 Russia. Set at the edge of the 20th century during Christmas, the film is a grand visual tale full of adventure. The movie directed by Michael Lockshin is loosely based on the novel ‘Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates’ by Mary Mapes Dodge.
It stars Fedor Fedotov, Sonya Priss, Kirill Zaytsev, Yuriy Borisov, and Aleksey Guskov in the lead roles. If you got engrossed in the winter wonderland romance of Matvey and Alisa and the enthralling ice-skating sequences, you might have lost sight of certain plot points the movie’s ending leaves unanswered. However, if you are looking for an explanation about the same, you have come to the right place. Here’s everything you perhaps missed about the ending of ‘Silver Skates.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Silver Skates Plot Synopsis
In ‘Silver Skates,’ Matvey, a poor boy, works as a “courier” or delivery boy for a prestigious restaurant in Saint Petersburg. He delivers food by skating across the snow-covered city. The road Matvey takes to reach an important order’s destination is blocked to allow the aristocratic Nikolai Nikolaevitch and his family’s carriage to pass. Matvey delivers the order late and is unjustly fired. Matvey’s father is sick, and he needs money for the treatment.
An unemployed Matvey encounters Alex, a pickpocketer and the liberal leader of a bunch of thieves who use their ice-skating skills to rob the rich. In desperate need of money to cure his father, Matvey joins the group. Meanwhile, Nikolaevich’s daughter Alisa dreams of receiving higher education, but her father plans on marrying her to Arkadiy Trubetskoy (Arkady in the English dub), a police officer who wishes to marry Alisa and is leading the pursuit of the ice-skating gang of thieves.
Matvey and Alisa meet by a chance encounter, and sparks fly between them after Matvey tries to help Alisa secure admission into an institute for higher studies. Matvey takes Alisa out on a date, and the two fall in love. However, Alisa’s proposed marriage to Arkadiy and Matvey’s activities as a thief poses problems for their relationship, as does the class divide between them. How the young lovers overcome their personal issues and social norms and attempt to unite makes up the rest of the plot.
Silver Skates Ending: Are Matvey’s Skates Really Magical?
Alisa’s parents try to force her into marrying Arkadiy, and she decides to escape to Paris. Unfortunately, her first escape attempt coincides with the police capturing the ice-skating gang. Alisa is forced to return to her parents, Alex is killed, and Matvey’s condition is dire after he gets frostbite while escaping. Towards the end, Matvey is revived and helps Alisa escape from the New Year’s party she, her family, and Arkadiy are attending.
At the station, Matvey realizes that one of the two tickets to Paris that be bought got left behind. Arkadiy finds it and pursues them to the station. As the train leaves, Matvey fights Arkadiy and obtains the tickets. He races to catch the train, and Arkadiy shoots him. However, the bullet hits Matvey’s silver-plated skates, and he is saved. In the end, Matvey and Alisa unite and return to Saint Petersberg 4 years later, where Alisa starts a job as a chemistry professor. The film closes with Matvey, Alisa, and their son skating on the ice.
While the movie doesn’t feature any fantastical elements, it alludes that Matvey’s skates have magical powers. As Matvey’s father explains, the silver-plated skates have been passed down in their family and are considered magical, but no one knows why. In the end, the skates end up saving Matvey’s life, which only makes us wonder about the skates more. However, it is possible that since Matvey doesn’t come from much, his family has concocted the story of the skates being magical as it is the only valuable item they possess.
There is a meaningful sentiment attached to the skates. The family likely believes the skates can change their life. Besides, a lot of the movie tries to deal with the science vs. faith debate that was raging in the early 20th century. For example, a scene of Alisa performing a dissection on a frog is juxtaposed with her maid performing a superstitious ritual to meet her soulmate. Similarly, in one scene, Alisa demonstrates how a magical illusion actually has science behind it.
All things said, the skates aren’t really magical, but they help to prove that magic lies in your beliefs. After all, despite the great lengths the movie goes in endorsing science, love cannot be scientifically explained and can truly be magical and life-changing. The skates, playing a crucial role in Matvey’s union with Alisa, stand to underline the same.
What is the Significance of Fire?
In the movie, when Matvey meets Alisa for the first time, his hand catches fire. While it can be seen as a visual motif for sparks flying between the eventual lovers, fire has a deeper meaning. In another scene, where Arkadiy nearly catches Matvey and his friend for stealing, the altercation also involves fire. Similarly, towards the end, Arkadiy sets the gang’s residence, a scrapped ship, on fire. Finally, a scene in which Alisa talks about the blue flame, which is cold to the touch but can later burn someone, also feels very cryptic.
It is possible that fire is the visual motif for Arkadiy, who rivals Matvey for Alisa’s affection and proves to be a constant thorn in his side. Meanwhile, ice can be seen as the visual motif for Matvey. Their personalities are also in sync with the general ideas of ice and fire. However, Arkadiy is also a skilled skater but not as proficient as Matvey. Matvey is also more genuine, compassionate, and understanding of Alisa’s ideals in comparison to Arkadiy, who only wants to marry Alisa for money and status and pretends to be a liberal. The blue flame is likely a variation of Arkadiy’s motif that represents how he conceals his true self to gain Alisa’s affection.
How Does the Movie Compare to Shakespeare’s Works?
While the movie is not an adaptation of any of Shakespeare’s plays, it is hard to deny the influence of the maestro playwright’s stories on the movie. The period setting, the love triangle, the class divide, the star-crossed lovers, the ballroom scenes, and the many balcony scenes featured in the film are reminiscent of Shakespeare’s works. However, in contrast to the playwright’s stories, which typically are known for their tragic endings, ‘Silver Skates’ has a happy ending. Although it is hard to watch the movie without making comparisons, the movie tells a heartfelt story that is an ode to Shakespeare but also creates a unique impression.
Read More: Where Was Silver Skates Filmed?