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Cinematic Terrorism

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  • Cinematic Terrorism

    I just watched The Rider Named Death, directed by Karen Shaknazarov. I was sort of thinking here's Downton Abbey with Russian terrorists.

    Not quite, it's one of the more interesting films about terrorism I've seen (in there with The Baader-Meinhof Complex & Four Lions). It's based on a novel by Boris Savinkov (Clive Merrison played him in Reilly Ace of Spies, w/ Sam Neill) a member of the SRs and terrorist in czarist Russia.

    Visually it is fantastic, set in old Moscow. The street scenes are a claustrophobic mix of cars & horse-drawn carriages. There's a marvelous bomb-making scene that starts with cocaine and ends with a woman tying a red-ribbon bow on a decorated tin lovingly packed with dynamite, like a whacked-out Martha Stewart.

    The actors are like a visual tour of old Russia, Andrey Panin (George) has almost Mongol eyes (he's fantastic on screen), Kseniya Rappoport has a very Ashkenazi face, quite beautiful, but different from the actresses playing upper-class Russian girls, and Rostislav Bershauer looks so Russian.

    The other thing is that there is a feel of a terrorist script, that incidents are part of a repeated pattern, familiar. The accidental explosion, like the Weathermen in Greenwich Village or Alexander Berkman's friends on Lexington Avenue. When a prisoner goes out a window, I think of the Gallianist Andrea Salsedo or The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. It's recursive history.

    Brilliant film, I wonder why I'd never heard of it before.
    Dave Hardy

    My books: Crazy Greta, Tales of Phalerus the Achaean, and Palmetto Empire.