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Is Silver Skates Based On A True Story?

"Silver Skates" is one of the latest movies to join Netflix's perpetually-growing slate of original content released this year. The film takes place in a fantastical version of St. Petersburg in 1899, in which its various rivers and canals are perpetually frozen over. As a result, its citizens are able to traverse the city on ice.

Matvey (Fedor Fedotov) is the film's protagonist. Upon its opening, he works as a courier for a sweets shop. Thanks to a pair of silver skates, which his father bought for him during a visit to Amsterdam, Matvey is faster than the average delivery person at traversing the waterways of St. Petersburg. That said, Matvey lives in poverty, with little else but the income from his delivery job and his pair of silver skates to his name. Soon, he loses his job after members of the aristocratic Vyazemsky family obstruct his way during a delivery, causing him to arrive uncharacteristically late.

After Matvey is fired from his job, he meets the daughter of the Vyazemsky family, Alisa (Sofya Priss). Though she lives the life of an aristocrat, her passion is for science, which her family finds unbecoming of a woman. The budding romance between Matvey and Alisa, then, is an unlikely match both due to their economic backgrounds and ambitions.

Given its St. Petersburg setting and class-focused story, there are elements of "Silver Skates" that appear inspired by real-life Russian society, likely leading some viewers to wonder if the film is at least inspired in part by a true story.

Silver Skates's main inspiration is in literature, not real life

According to the official Netflix description of "Silver Skates," the film is based not on a true story but inspired by both "Romeo & Juliet," as well as the novel "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates: A Story of Life in Holland," which was first published in 1865.

The influence of the former work is obvious: like Romeo and Juliet's romance budding in spite of their families' enmity toward one another, Matvey and Alisa too are star-crossed lovers, drawn to one another despite their respective lots in life.

"Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates," meanwhile — which, as the full title suggests, is set in the Netherlands rather than Russia — is a novel by American author Mary Mapes Dodge about a Dutch ice skater named Hanks Brinker, who enters a speed skating competition in Amsterdam with a pair of silver skates as its prize. "Silver Skates," then, isn't so much a direct adaptation of Dodge's novel, either, but a romantic tale that incorporates plot elements from its literary source material. The book has also been adapted numerous times before, including as a live-action 1962 Disney movie of the same name.

In short, then, "Silver Skates" is a largely original story, drawing plot elements from two prior literary works, to create something new.