Candles in the Dark

1993 television film directed by Maximilian Schell

Candles in the Dark



Written by

Nicholas Niciphor

Directed by

Maximilian Schell


Alyssa Milano
Chad Lowe

Music by

Richard Bowers

Country of origin

United States

Original language


Production Executive producer

James M. Dowaliby


Ilmar Taska

Production location

Tallinn, Estonia

Running time

88 minutes

Production company

Family Productions

Original release Network

The Family Channel


December 3, 1993 (1993-12-03)

Candles in the Dark is a 1993 American made for television Christmas drama film directed by Maximilian Schell. Produced for The Family Channel, the film stars Alyssa Milano and Chad Lowe.


When her father thinks she is too spoiled, he sends Sylvia to her aunt in Estonia. She soon finds herself engulfed in a struggle with her father, and finds herself being hunted by the KGB. Meanwhile, after she meets Jaan, Sylvia immediately falls in love with him. Together, they fight to keep the Christmas spirit alive in the dark and old fashioned city.


Alyssa Milano as Sylvia Velliste
Chad Lowe as Jaan Toome
Natalya Andrejchenko as Marta Velliste
Günther Maria Halmer [de] as Pastor Harma
Maximilian Schell as Colonel Arkush
Aleksey Petrenko
Gita Ränk as Tiina
Helena Merzin as Natasha Omeltchenko
Lembit Ulfsak as Gospodin Omeltchenko
Mart Sander as the resistance fighter
Hendrik Toompere Sr.
Andres Puustusmaa
Salme Reek
Elle Kull
Maria Avdjuško


The film was shot between August and September 1993 on location with an Estonian crew, most of whom did not speak English. According to the Los Angeles Times, this was the first non-Estonian film to be shot in Estonia. Maximilian Schell looked back on production and the crew: \"They would say \'yes\' to everything. Sometimes it would fit and sometimes it wouldn\'t. Our time was very short with the sound and music, all of the coordination. It was a lot to do in such a short period of time.\"

The version aired on the Family Channel was not Schell\'s final cut. He planned on buying the film\'s rights to distribute a re-edited version overseas, but this never happened.


Variety magazine wrote: \"Candles in the Dark is a sweet, endearing but safe story that occasionally suffers from low production values and muddled sub-characters but will no doubt make the family weep.\"


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