K19 – the Widowmaker

The most intriguing thing about K19-The Widowmaker (starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson) is that it’s clearly been made during the Putin era.

In the 1980s films made in the UK or the US about the Soviet Union, the whole Soviet enterprise was fairly cold-hearted, uncaring, cruel, etc. Whereas in this film there is a clear divide. The (real) captain (Liam Neeson) is a great leader, loved and respected by his men, the sailors and officers are also good three-dimensional characters, with joys and fears. Quite a normal military film — they could be US sailors and officers. But the Politburo and Moscow, now that’s where the cruelty lies. They have no feelings for the men; anti-Americanism is their highest goal. The captain sent by them (Harrison Ford) also has no warmth while he is doing what Moscow ordered.

A line has been drawn: the people on one side; Politburo/Moscow on the other. And at one point, Harrison Ford’s character crosses the line. Becomes one of the people.

This division is much more reminiscent of the way “Putin’s Moscow” is/was represented in ‘the West’, than the ways in which Soviet Russia has generally been presented.

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