A Russian film, “Olympus Inferno,” is set to explore the Georgia war and may spark renewed debate about who started the war.
After months of growing tension, the war began in August of last year when Georgia sent troops to retake the disputed region of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a counterstrike in South Ossetia and moved further into Georgia, a reaction the U.S. called “disproportionate” at the time. The conflict came to a conclusion by the end of the month with a cease-fire.
The action movie, set to air on Sunday, is shot in the style of the Bourne trilogy and tells the tale of an American entomologist and a Russian journalist who “unintentionally capture evidence that Georgia started the conflict using a special camera night lens as they attempt to film rare night butterflies,” Reuters reports.
Watch a trailer of the film below:
Blogger Sean at “Sean’s Russia Blog” reacts to the trailer:
Judging from the trailer, I doubt it’s really a “work of art” and certainly can’t be compared to Apocalypse Now but more a way to keep the Russian public’s political passions alive via shaky cameras, big explosions, and sappy melodrama. I won’t be tuning in of course, but I am curious about viewers reactions, if any.
Nathan Hodge at Wired’s “Danger Room” blog argues that Russian film propaganda is a far cry from what it once was:
This kind of clunky propaganda shows how far things have gone in Russia. Compare “Olympus Inferno” with, say, “Prisoner of the Mountains,” a phenomenal movie made during the first Chechen War. As legend has it, this powerful film helped persuade Russian President Boris Yeltsin to sign a peace treaty with the Chechens in 1996.
The “South Ossetia War” blog writes that the film will have political implications as Russians and Georgians try to pinpoint blame:
The political message of the film is obviously going to be quite important. The repercussions of last summer’s war are still being felt in both Russia and Georgia. The Russian media have been carrying reports that Russian draftee soldiers were not paid for their time serving in South Ossetia. Meanwhile, protests coming up on April 9 in Georgia are clearly going to be very dangerous for Mikheil Saakashvili’s government, and some highly suspicious arrests of the opposition have been going on in recent days that might seem more suited to neighbouring countries like Azerbaijan.
[…]While the Russians go ahead with the propaganda film (and the episode in the trailer where a wild-eyed Georgian soldier is running with a cocked pistol and screaming madly suggests it will certainly be propaganda), and the Georgians continue to cry about their scary imperialist neighbour and claim that last year’s war was a brave defensive response to invasion of their territory, sensible outside observers will surely continue to ignore both dodgy versions of events. As so often in international relations, the truth is surely that both sides behaved appallingly.
The more the EU digs into the outbreak of last August’s Russia-Georgia War, the worse things look for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. According to Der Spiegel, the paper trail seems to be leading back to Order No. 2, from Aug. 7, which the Russians claim to have intercepted, and which allegedly spoke of re-establishing “constitutional order” in the region. The formula was repeated word for word by a Georgian general, also on Aug. 7. Georgia, meanwhile, refuses to turn over the document in question, calling it a “state secret.”
Blogger Matthew Collin in Georgia compares that country’s media to Russia’s:
While a lot of television reporting in Georgia is pro-government, it’s clear that there is much more open criticism of the authorities on national television than is ever allowed in Russia, or in most other former Soviet states. But the idea of a genuinely free and independent media has been slow to take root here. Georgia’s radical opposition, for example, seems to believe that free media simply means more airtime for their opinions (they recently demanded that an entire channel be handed over to them), rather than any kind of independent scrutiny of politicians on all sides. Meanwhile, investigative reporting has been marginalised. Two independent studios do produce documentaries examining official corruption and miscarriages of justice, but they are not shown on national TV.