“…notice where the video begins. Remind you of any Middle Earth location? That’s right, it’s the Shire, and in fact Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars Episode IV, and of course LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring start out the same way—at their respective civilizations’ version of the Shire, which is a subconscious representation of childhood memories, the “safe place” that is an idealized memory of our childhood.
And if this is the Shire, then Sasha Akimov is…the Hobbit. And so is Luke Skywalker, Private Ryan and, surprisingly enough, Frodo Baggins. You may have noticed that while only one character is played by an actual kid (the 12-year-old Aleksey Kopashov in his first, but likely not last, movie role), Frodo Baggins is practically kid-like, while Matt Damon and Mark Hamill are not coincidentally baby-faced. They are the author/director’s alter ego, the reflection of their own childhood, while the movie’s geography is a so-called “temporal map” in which each location corresponds not so much to a real place on Earth (in the case of fantasy/sci-fi movies) but to a specific period of one’s life. Tolkien’s Shire looks the way it does because that’s the what Tolkien saw when he was growing up, and Tatooine (especially his “uncle’s” moisture farm) is how Lucas remembered growing up in Modesto, CA (a town which in fact was the focus of his movie American Graffiti).
Notice, however, what the relation is between the Shire and the War. Do the Orcs ever pay a visit to the Shire? No. Does the Wehrmacht disturb the peace of Private Ryan’s mom back in the States [Iowa]? No. But is Sasha Akimov’s Shire a genuine safe haven?
Even though Akimov, in his capacity as the movie’s narrator, says “this is my home, my fortress”, it quickly becomes evident it offers no protection whatsoever and the fortress quickly turns into a slaughterhouse. You can readily see the anxiety that lurks within the Russian collective subconscious: There Is No Place Safe [from invaders or sudden destruction]. There is nowhere you can run to because The Enemy will follow you there. Which means you have to stand and fight. Fight to protect your children whose childhood is at risk of being bombed, shelled, or shot to bloody shreds, as it has been so many times in Russia’s history. Ultimately, it is here that the secret of Russian military performance resides…
That movie [The Brest Fortress] was the first indication [in 2010] (which at the time I received with considerable disbelief) that Russia was expecting a military challenge somewhere along its Western border. In retrospect, it’s obvious why.
Once one learns to view the world through the Russian lens, to examine what is written on the Russian “wiring”, the world becomes both a more understandable and a more depressing place. For the movie to have come out in 2010, the work on it must have started in 2009 or even 2008, the year of the big financial crisis. And when there is a financial crisis accompanied by austerity policy, there is bound to be trouble. The [post]West will simply resort to its tried-and-true tactic of running up the banner of one true religion/master race entitlement/humanitarian intervention (all of which have been used to justify Western invasions of Russia over the past several centuries—nothing new under the Swastika…) and launch a new round of expansion.
What is to be done?
The final lesson of the movie is that, whatever happens, it is not going to be 1941. One of the more remarkable scenes in the movie takes place toward its beginning, before the war breaks out. In it, one of the key characters has a…discussion…with the local NKVD officer concerning “panic-mongering” in the 333rd Rifle Regiment. Panic-mongering in this instance consists of mere rumors of impending war which, as we all well know, was in fact coming. There is a palpable sense of menace in that scene, because that kind of an accusation could get one shot. But present in the scene is a huge portrait of Stalin, and his inclusion is probably meant as criticism of his entirely futile policy of laying low so as to avoid provoking Hitler which is without any doubt the worst decision Stalin had ever made.
So the final message of the movie is pretty clear: do not wait until they come after you and do not expect (as, for example, [the Russian movie] The Return clearly does) that they will leave you alone. Strike first to put your adversaries off balance. You’ll be better off for doing so.
With only one year’s hindsight, it is clear that the decision to forcefully intervene in the Crimea was precisely the right thing to do under the circumstances.
In conclusion, predicting the future is not that hard. All you have to do is watch Russian movies. Their makers and funders already know what is coming.”