In Brief

Child 44: Russia bans thriller over historical 'distortions'

Soviet-era serial killer film starring Tom Hardy condemned as 'hellish anti-Soviet trash'

Russia has banned a new thriller starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, Child 44, claiming that it "distorts history".

In the film, set in the Soviet era, Hardy plays a police officer pursuing a serial killer whose efforts are hampered by officials who refuse to acknowledge that such crimes could happen in the USSR.

Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has denounced the film for "distortion of historical facts and the idiosyncratic treatment of events before, during and after" the Second World War, reports Salon. The ban comes just days before the film's scheduled release this Friday.

The timing is sensitive as it comes on the eve of Russian celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

The ban is not entirely unexpected, as Russian authorities have been threatening to step up censorship for some time. Last year they considered introducing legislation banning any foreign films that "demonised" Russia or its citizens, reports Deadline Hollywood.

While no bill was passed, Pavel Stepanov, head of the Child 44's Russian distributor, has called for "more government control over the distribution of films which have a socially important context to them".

Child 44, directed by Daniel Espinosa and produced by Ridley Scott, is adapted from British novelist Tom Rob Smith's novel about a series of child murders set in Stalin-era Russia.

Although the author says his book is loosely based on the story of the real-life mass murderer Andrei Chikatilo, the action in Child 44 is set in the early 1950s, decades before the Chikatilo killings took place.

But it's not just the authorities who have doubts about Child 44, says The Guardian. One Russian reviewer called the film "hellish anti-Soviet trash" and claimed it was full of historical inaccuracies, such as references to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book The Gulag Archipelago, which was published two decades after the film is set.

In Britain, some critics have joined the chorus of disapproval, although their concerns focus on the actors' performances. In The Guardian, John Patterson describes "dialogue spoken by British actors adopting horrible fake foreign accents".

Sometimes it feels as if we haven't moved on from Where Eagles Dare, says Patterson, referring to Derren Nesbitt's portrayal of a Nazi, "clicking his heels together, chuckling darkly and savouring the sheer blackness of his SS uniform".

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