Russian Portrayal in Film

Last semester a friend of mine in my dorm, having heard that I planned to be a Russian major, recommended a movie to me that he thought I would find enjoyable. The movie’s name was Eastern Promises and I decided to go and check it out. Upon watching the movie I noticed two things in particular; one, the Russian in the movie was absolutely atrocious, and two, this movie continued the stereotype that all Russians are gangsters and alcoholics. Having seen this I decided to continue to watch some more American made movies in order to see how Russians are usually portrayed and how this portrayal has changed since the Cold War.

One iconic movie that I viewed was the original Red Dawn, made in 1984 during the Cold War. This movie was about the Soviets invading the US and followed a gang of teenagers who attempted to repel the Russians from their town. Throughout the movie the Soviets are portrayed as this huge evil force that needs to be destroyed. This goes along with the Cold War theme of “better dead than Red” however it still perpetuates the stereotype of Russians being negative.

Moving into the modern era of film, I chose to review The Avengers. While the Russian theme in this movie is not quite as obvious, I think it still resonates through its viewers. One of the characters know as the Black Widow, was originally a Russian agent who defected to the United States. A master assassin, she is displayed as showing little empathy and a low moral standard, even saying at one point “regimes fall every day, I tend not to weep over that…I’m Russian”.

While these are only three examples of many, I think they definitely show what the American definition of a “typical” Russian is generally perceive to be. I think that this media and film coverage of Russians has helped to create a lack of knowledge about Russian culture and people which will continue to cause negative relations between the US and Russians. As with all other cultures, American media needs to be careful in how it portrays the Russian people as it has a huge effect on peoples opinions of other culutres.

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