Yesterday I wrote about how North Korea rigidly controls access to foreign media by banning them completely. Of course it has resulted in a large black market for western movies. Russia, which has slipped back into Czarist autocracy,now wants to ban foreign films that demonizes Russia or shows it in a bad light. The ministry has taken over all film funding causing problems with joint productions with foreign partners. The notion of limiting foreign movies shown in Russia has been around for a while but now, thanks to anti-Western sentiment, it probably will become law.
Supposedly only new movies being distributed would be subject to these new controls, older movies especially those on an approved list would have no problem. Star Wars (the original and none of the sequels or prequels)is okay. James Cameron’s Titanic makes the cut as well. Not surprisingly the pro-Beijing The Last Emperor also makes the cut. Others from Hollywood include: Apocalypse Now,Citizen Kane, Cabaret, Bambi, Gone With The Wind, and Scarface. The Japanese film The Seven Samurai also makes the cut along with other movies from Europe and Hungary amongst others.
The purpose, of course, is to bully the major film companies into portraying Russia if nothing else in a positive light. They probably will like movies that show how bad things were under the Czars or how Bonaparte and Hitler were driven from Russian soil. They will likely not care for pro-Western anti-communist movies that paint them in not so favorable a light. Or ones that depict Stalin as a mass murderer instead of saving Russia from the Nazi barbarism. Or ones that show them taking over many Eastern European nations after World War II and putting in place friendly (read communist) governments.
If history is an example, the Hollywood moguls will play ball. They did so for Nazi Germany during the 1930’s and today do the same for Communist China (which is why you rarely see movies critical of that regime since they will not allow them to be shown there). But perhaps things have changed because of what is going on in the Ukraine. At least for now Titanic is allowed but of course that can change, if like the old days, when the minister has to blow his nose and has a change of heart.
I came across an interesting story in The St. Petersburg Times where a group of wealthy Orthodox are hoping to get Hollywood to produce movies featuring Russia. The one being promoted is the life of 14th-century Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur, also known as Tamerlane the Great. More interesting is what Andrei Poklonsky states:”Long before the discovery of America, we had a great civilization. At the end of the 14th century this was under threat. Tamerlane’s invincible army of 200,000 soldiers was set to plough through our lands of only 35,000 fighters. There was seemingly no chance for us, but after the whole country prayed for deliverance, the Mother of God told Tamerlane in a dream to retreat. Faith saved our country.” Apparently some in Hollywood are interested. And supports exactly what the Russian Culture Ministry wants to promote. (Source:Orthodox Philanthropists Planning to Finance Russian-Themed Blockbusters in Hollywood,29 Aug 2014, St Petersburg Times)
1. Russian Officials Push for a Ban on Films That ‘Demonize’ Their Country(27 Aug 2014,Yahoo! Movies -originally from The Hollywood Reporter)
2.Russia Officially Recognizes ‘Star Wars’ as Film Classic (28 Aug 2014, Moscow Times)