30 July 2010 | iconians
Intricate, detailed, spy drama of Cold War
I seen this movie some years ago as a child and now I had the chance to re-watch it again. Many movies that we loved as children now become silly and lose its charm, not this one though.
The movie is set in the early 1980's, and while the Cold War is over, this ovie remains by far one of the smartest movie ever made.
The premise is the following: In a fictional African country that is now supported by USSR, an uprising (that is supported by the USA) is about to depose its leadership. Because USSR has an agreement to step in, the CIA has to find out exactly what will USSR do in order to make their move.
All this was prompted by the anonymous letter that was given to the USSR consulate of the neighboring country, which the author claims to witness CIA meeting its Russian Agent.
The other main plots are these: 1 - In Moscow KGB General (Tikhonov) has to find a an American spy, a Russian who is leaking classified information to the CIA. He sends Colonel Slavin (Solomin) to the African country in order to figure out who the author of the letter is, who the spy may be, as well as other CIA related actions.
The parts that set this movie apart from many others is the details that are missing everywhere else. For example, when Slavin arrives to the country, in order to find out about a previous accident, we see him masterfully banter with locals. He does not press them for answers but merely uses his superior intellect to slowly massage the conversation to get information he needs.
Another situation is when KGB General (Tikhonov) is analyzing known information in order to make decisions.The detail given to the back story and the facts and the reasons, makes it plausible and paints realistic view of how such decisions are made in that situation. In a separate episodes, 10 minute shots were shown in details to not give the audience answers but merely to guide them through the process.
Yes, I will admit, that at times the movie can be a bit slow, such as during some of the ethical or sociological conversations, where for good 10-15 minutes, nothing really happens except two people quoting famous thinkers of the past in order to push western or socialist reasoning.
I find that to be the difference between quality adaptations and Hollywood money making layer-less flicks. Yes, you can cut 10-15 minutes from each episode because nothing really happens there, but there is actually something happens.
That conversation Slavin had with another person in earlier episode, was just 15 minutes of nothing really, except it achieved one of the important things: down the line when it came to the point to judging that person's motives & reasons to betray his country, Slavin was able to make the correct decision. Such layered nuances in acting and script, create a movie that can withstand time.
The last reason why I really enjoyed this movie is because it's the most realistic one, where each side KGB/CIA are treated as smart counterparts. The movie does not try to push agenda or paint one or the other as unpatriotic, it simply stays away from that. Instead of shows both sides thinking, methods, and reasons for doing what they do.
This is truly a masterpiece