Author Topic: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films  (Read 8750 times)

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Offline Minnesotan

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Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« on: November 21, 2014, 02:11:37 AM »
Very recently there seems to be a rash of Hollywood films that portray Orthodox characters--always Russian Orthodox ones--in an extremely negative light.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the first example I can think of: it came out in January 2014 and features a Russian plot to collapse the U.S. economy by staging an al-Qaeda-style terrorist attack followed by an engineered financial collapse. The plot is codenamed "Operation Lamentations", and the young man who is selected to carry out the attack is shown attending a Russian Orthodox church where the priest selects Lamentations 2:2 as the daily Bible reading. This verse is in fact the code phrase used to activate the attacker.

Later this year, The Equalizer (with Denzel Washington) came out and it features a Russian mafia led by an oligarch whose name is Vladimir Pushkin (does that name sound like anyone you know?) The gang's American headquarters is in the upper room of a nightclub and there is a huge icon of the Theotokos behind the leader's desk. During a fight in which Washington's character dispatches several of the gangsters, the icon is bloodied.

I haven't seen John Wick yet, but according to the Wikipedia article it's about a guy who used to work for a Russian gang and has since turned against them, but there is a combat scene at a church (I'm guessing an Orthodox one but don't know for sure since I haven't seen it) and the church building is being used as a front for the gang.

I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

It might also be more politically/culturally than religiously motivated. Everyone just loves to bash Putin and Russia these days. You don't see this kind of stuff in movies with Greeks, or Lebanese Antiochians, or Armenians, or Ethiopians. It seems to specifically be an animus against Russians (or perhaps more broadly, Slavs). Why do filmmakers feel that way?



Someone ought to make a sequel to this documentary and call it "Reel Bad Russians".
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Offline TheMathematician

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2014, 02:15:23 AM »
THe US and Russia(including time under the USSR) have been at war ideologically since the end of the Second World War, if not longer, and wont be stopping anytime soon

Offline hecma925

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2014, 02:42:53 AM »
I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

Christians are pretty much always depicted as stupid by Hollywood, yet Christians still buy movie tickets and videos.
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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2014, 03:12:36 AM »
You don't see this kind of stuff in movies with Greeks, or Lebanese Antiochians, or Armenians, or Ethiopians. It seems to specifically be an animus against Russians (or perhaps more broadly, Slavs). Why do filmmakers feel that way?
Probably because the former aren't a threat to world stability.
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Offline Gunnarr

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2014, 03:49:18 AM »
There was this show on, called criminal minds. Out of no where, the main suspect (bad guy) had his story explained by basically narration. IT stated his family were devout Russian Orthodox Christians, and that he was then beaten for any disobedience to his father. That is probably the only time in their history of the show of mentioning the Orthodox Church, and the only thing it ever was coupled with was child abuse.
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2014, 04:11:27 AM »
In the movie Salt, the OCA cathedral in NYC was used as the interior setting of the orphanage where they trained the children how to be Americans and kiss KGB agents' rings.  The Makaryev Monastery in Russia was also filmed as the exterior of this training compound.
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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2014, 06:05:49 AM »
Later this year, The Equalizer (with Denzel Washington) came out and it features a Russian mafia led by an oligarch whose name is Vladimir Pushkin (does that name sound like anyone you know?)

It does sound like the writer Pushkin.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2014, 08:04:19 AM »
I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

Christians are pretty much always depicted as stupid by Hollywood, yet Christians still buy movie tickets and videos.

Then I guess Hollywood is right?
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2014, 08:11:34 AM »
I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

Christians are pretty much always depicted as stupid by Hollywood, yet Christians still buy movie tickets and videos.

Then I guess Hollywood is right?

Everyone's a sucker for distraction.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2014, 09:40:31 AM »
In the movie Salt, the OCA cathedral in NYC was used as the interior setting of the orphanage where they trained the children how to be Americans and kiss KGB agents' rings.  The Makaryev Monastery in Russia was also filmed as the exterior of this training compound.
The real outrage here is that the OCA would allow their cathedral to be filmed in that dung hole of a movie.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 09:40:51 AM by TheTrisagion »
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2014, 09:52:23 AM »
Take a deep breath. Catholics and their imagery and beliefs fare far worse in cinema.

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2014, 09:57:34 AM »
Take a deep breath. Catholics and their imagery and beliefs fare far worse in cinema.
Are you implying that The Da Vinci Code is not an accurate representation of Roman Catholicism? I'm stunned.  What else about the world that Hollywood has told me might also be inaccurate? My whole worldview is crumbling right now.
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Offline Arachne

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2014, 10:23:33 AM »
Russians have always been a handy type of villain in Hollywood, and that's not going to change any time soon. Back when the baddies were communists, religion didn't play into it. In some cases, and some of the best, the Russians in question are Jewish (if you haven't seen Tim Roth and co. in the excellent Little Odessa, do so). The 'Orthodox' bit now is just a way to dress up the stereotype, nothing more.

That said, Black Widow's interrogation scene in The Avengers is my favourite Russian villainy scene Hollywood has ever come up with. :D
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Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2014, 11:59:27 AM »
Black Widow and Elektra (Russian and Greek) are the only quasi-Orthodox, quasi-hero(ines) charactes in comics and action movies.

But it seems that Hollywood or comics writers think of Orthodox becoming almost heroes, they will be female hot anti-heroes necessarily. :)


Black Widow after an assassination attempt is prevented


Elektra's icon corner

Both depictions came in Daredevil's stories. Daredevil is openly Roman Catholic (not really pious), and religious themes come out more often in his stories.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 12:03:07 PM by Fabio Leite »
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Offline jewish voice

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2014, 12:32:55 PM »
Black Widow and Elektra (Russian and Greek) are the only quasi-Orthodox, quasi-hero(ines) charactes in comics and action movies.

But it seems that Hollywood or comics writers think of Orthodox becoming almost heroes, they will be female hot anti-heroes necessarily. :)


Black Widow after an assassination attempt is prevented


Elektra's icon corner

Both depictions came in Daredevil's stories. Daredevil is openly Roman Catholic (not really pious), and religious themes come out more often in his stories.


there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2014, 12:39:56 PM »
Take a deep breath. Catholics and their imagery and beliefs fare far worse in cinema.
Are you implying that The Da Vinci Code is not an accurate representation of Roman Catholicism? I'm stunned.  What else about the world that Hollywood has told me might also be inaccurate? My whole worldview is crumbling right now.

I find the use of Catholic symbolism and teaching (purgatory) so bizarre in the storyline that I can't help from laughing out loud during the Fox tv hit "Sleepy Hollow". (Much to my wife's annoyance.)

Come on script writers,  the Brits and Patriots of the American Revolution were all most all diehard anti Papists. Franklin was agnostic at best, Washington was sort of Anglican and others were deists.

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2014, 12:42:41 PM »
there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

But Elektra and Black Widow are the only ones to have reached a fanbase large enough to become protagonists. All the others remain background coadjuvants or forgotten.
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Offline jewish voice

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2014, 12:48:30 PM »
there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

But Elektra and Black Widow are the only ones to have reached a fanbase large enough to become protagonists. All the others remain background coadjuvants or forgotten.
Dracula don't forget him. But yes other wise kinda right

Offline jewish voice

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2014, 12:50:09 PM »
Take a deep breath. Catholics and their imagery and beliefs fare far worse in cinema.
Are you implying that The Da Vinci Code is not an accurate representation of Roman Catholicism? I'm stunned.  What else about the world that Hollywood has told me might also be inaccurate? My whole worldview is crumbling right now.

I find the use of Catholic symbolism and teaching (purgatory) so bizarre in the storyline that I can't help from laughing out loud during the Fox tv hit "Sleepy Hollow". (Much to my wife's annoyance.)

Come on script writers,  the Brits and Patriots of the American Revolution were all most all diehard anti Papists. Franklin was agnostic at best, Washington was sort of Anglican and others were deists.
wait they were all up right out standing evangelical Christians how dare you  :D

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2014, 01:54:03 PM »
there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

But Elektra and Black Widow are the only ones to have reached a fanbase large enough to become protagonists. All the others remain background coadjuvants or forgotten.
Dracula don't forget him. But yes other wise kinda right


Which is unfortunate.

Any Orthodox elder could fill in the trope of "Old Wise Man who advises the hero". The path toward becoming a hero from an Orthodox point of view would be very interesting. The culminating point would be the hero finding out that he is now way as good as he thought, that actually the villain is quite right when he says "you are as broken as me!", and, in contrition and prayer, he would understand that he has to do the right thing not because he is better than other people, but because he loves the heroine, the cause, whatever he is defending.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2014, 02:13:01 PM »
there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

But Elektra and Black Widow are the only ones to have reached a fanbase large enough to become protagonists. All the others remain background coadjuvants or forgotten.
Dracula don't forget him. But yes other wise kinda right
Dracula converted to Catholicism.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2014, 09:43:10 AM »
there are 9 orthodox heroes 33 villains  4 clergy
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?srch=religion-Eastern_Orthodox__14

But Elektra and Black Widow are the only ones to have reached a fanbase large enough to become protagonists. All the others remain background coadjuvants or forgotten.
Dracula don't forget him. But yes other wise kinda right
Dracula converted to Catholicism.

There was some TV movie where he became a vampire because the Orthodox church excommunicated him.  :D
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Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2014, 11:48:19 AM »
It'd be interesting to see a comic book about the "Marble Emperor".

He comes back to life in modern times as a carbon/silicon hybrid creature (sort of like Fantastic Four's The Thing). Despite being devoutly Orthodox, he's turned away from one Orthodox church because the priest won't let statues inside. The Greeks want him to conquer Constantinople/Istanbul back for them, of course, but he soon discovers that there are more pressing issues to deal with at this point.
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Offline Charles Martel

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2014, 07:58:53 AM »
Take a deep breath. Catholics and their imagery and beliefs fare far worse in cinema.
This is true. No one holds a candle to the Vatican when it comes to a direct attack from those demons who run Hollywood.

Think of all those popes, clergy and lay Catholics who "collaborated" with those eevil nazis in films. Or attacked those poor, noble, "peaceful" Saracens during the Crusades. Hell, they practially have the Church making hits for the La cosa Nostra.

But in the end it actually has the opposite effect, it makes the people more intrigued about Catholicism and leads them to investiagte it or even lapsed Catholics to come home to the Church. And when they do, they find out the truth and what's really going on in those "movies", see the errors and realize just who's behind it.

So keep bashing the Church, east or west, you devils in the "business".

It's good advertising and a great recruiting technique. ;D
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Offline Charles Martel

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2014, 08:04:51 AM »
Quote
Someone ought to make a sequel to this documentary and call it "Reel Bad Russians".
And yet, most rational thinking people would root for the "bad" Russians. Just like they root for the "bad" Catholic or German or Arab or whatever these days.

Be honest, who in their right mind roots for the "heroes" in  most  hollyweird films these days?
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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2014, 08:07:28 AM »
Be honest, who in their right mind roots for the "heroes" in  most  hollyweird films these days?

Do they even have heroes anymore? Since the Dark Knight, Breaking Bad etc. all 'heroes' seem to be as sinister as the bad guys.

Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2014, 01:01:48 AM »
I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

Christians are pretty much always depicted as stupid by Hollywood, yet Christians still buy movie tickets and videos.
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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2014, 03:09:54 AM »
I have not watched a TV movie or Hollywood movie in ages.

Our TV is broken and we do not want to fix it. Broken is a blessing. :)
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Offline jwinch2

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2014, 12:45:35 PM »
Very recently there seems to be a rash of Hollywood films that portray Orthodox characters--always Russian Orthodox ones--in an extremely negative light.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the first example I can think of: it came out in January 2014 and features a Russian plot to collapse the U.S. economy by staging an al-Qaeda-style terrorist attack followed by an engineered financial collapse. The plot is codenamed "Operation Lamentations", and the young man who is selected to carry out the attack is shown attending a Russian Orthodox church where the priest selects Lamentations 2:2 as the daily Bible reading. This verse is in fact the code phrase used to activate the attacker.

Later this year, The Equalizer (with Denzel Washington) came out and it features a Russian mafia led by an oligarch whose name is Vladimir Pushkin (does that name sound like anyone you know?) The gang's American headquarters is in the upper room of a nightclub and there is a huge icon of the Theotokos behind the leader's desk. During a fight in which Washington's character dispatches several of the gangsters, the icon is bloodied.

I haven't seen John Wick yet, but according to the Wikipedia article it's about a guy who used to work for a Russian gang and has since turned against them, but there is a combat scene at a church (I'm guessing an Orthodox one but don't know for sure since I haven't seen it) and the church building is being used as a front for the gang.

I suspect this recent trend is because Orthodox Christians aren't a very large demographic, so the film studios don't have to worry about alienating potential consumers. You don't see evangelical churches being portrayed this way in film, at least not nearly as often.

It might also be more politically/culturally than religiously motivated.

Catholics are an extremely large demographic, and film studios have had no qualms about alienating us I can assure you.  I think your second statement is probably closer to the truth.  It is likely political, and cultural, and religious. 

First of all, Hollywood has a history of making movies about whatever story lines are common in the real world at the time.  During the cold war, it was about that.  Since 9/11, it has been about that.  Now that there are tensions with Russia again, we are seeing that again. 

Secondly, Orthodoxy has been strong in areas that Hollywood hates, like authentic marriage, life issues, etc. so if they see a chance to portray Christianity as the boogeyman, they are going to take it. 

Finally, whatever the truth of the matter, there have been ample suggestions of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy being a little too close to communists, when they were in power, and today with Putin as well.  It is not surprising that film writers would pick up on those things.  To them it is a simple logic statement. If communism or Putin = bad, and if Orthodoxy has close ties with communism or Putin, then Orthodox = bad. 


Please understand that I am not endorsing this view, but I can see where it is coming from. 

Offline jwinch2

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2014, 12:47:31 PM »
Be honest, who in their right mind roots for the "heroes" in  most  hollyweird films these days?

Do they even have heroes anymore? Since the Dark Knight, Breaking Bad etc. all 'heroes' seem to be as sinister as the bad guys.

Its been going on for longer than that, but you are correct nonetheless.  To Hollywood lately, dark = depth.  Something cannot be interesting or compelling unless it is very dark and brooding. 

There are probably some good parallels that can be drawn in terms of sin and this expression, but I haven't given it much in the way of thought until right now. 

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: Russian Orthodox Villains in Hollywood Films
« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2014, 03:35:51 PM »
Be honest, who in their right mind roots for the "heroes" in  most  hollyweird films these days?

Do they even have heroes anymore? Since the Dark Knight, Breaking Bad etc. all 'heroes' seem to be as sinister as the bad guys.

Blame the 80s on that. I just hope we don't go on in the next years to use the comics of the 90s as reference. :)

The media today has to appeal to adults who were kids in the 80s and to current kids, so most of what we see is a hybrid of that. I once read a critic rightly observing that we rarely get something entirely new in the movies these days. 80% of each 3D cartoons, some kind of super-hero movie or a remake or reboot.
Many Energies, 3 Persons, 2 Natures, 1 God, 1 Church, 1 Baptism, and 1 Cup. The Son begotten only from the Father, the Spirit proceeding only from the Father, Each glorifying the Other. The Son sends the Spirit, the Spirit Reveals the Son, the Father is seen in the Son. The Spirit spoke through the Prophets and Fathers and does so even today.