K-19–Soviet Widowmaker Sub and Russian “Collage” Painting

Last night Ken and I watched a movie titled “K-19-Widowmaker” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, released in 2002. K-19 was based on a true story which portrayed the grim realities of the Cold War in a Soviet nuclear submarine in the 1960s.  Impossible decisions were made by these two captains who were in conflict with each other.  Their decisions one way or the other, in the effort to save the crew, could have triggered the end of civilization as we know it. Ford was THEE Comrade Captain and ultimate bad guy while Neeson had been demoted from working with his own crew of 120 men, thus making him second in command under Ford.  In order to make this film, it cost over 100,000 million dollars. National Geographic had sunk their own money into this “documentary” to show support for something that had been kept secret among the members of the real Soviet navy crew once an investigation took place back in Moscow to find out who needed to be punished. Certainly things went awry, who could have anticipated this with such a proud and noble start at the beginning of their mission. Unfortunately, the filmmakers of this incredible movie only retrieved about two thirds of their investment in return from the box office and sales of the DVD.

Why are people not interested in movies related to the Cold War?  Is it because it is a confusing history or because there are too many versions of it from the U.S. side as well as the Soviet side?  In any case, it shows how loyalty, respect of command and allegiance to one’s country even if it means certain death, are values that run very deeply.  Not one American was portrayed in this movie except a U.S. Navy helicopter who came to the rescue of the K-19.  From start to finish the movie featured actors as Soviet navy men speaking English with Russian accents all the way up to the star actors, Ford and Neeson. But I don’t want to spoil this story for you, you will have to see it for yourself to see how closely this movie might align itself to politics in Kazakhstan right now.  I see some parallels from my vantage point of living in the seat of the government, Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan.

Politics is a terribly murky topic to write about, when Ken and I went to Astana’s Independence Hall, we saw a LARGER than life mural on the third floor.  The artist painted in 19 men congratulating the president of this country who is striding in the center with a medal around his neck.  On the left side is former French president Mitterand, Bush, Blair, the Japanese president (forget his name) and others smiling and clapping.  On the right of the big mural, which is called a “collage” in Russian because it is not an actual event but a historical collection of the main characters is Yeltsin (clapping hands on far right), Putin (is NOT clapping), Lushenko, Bakayiev (deposed president of Kyrgyzstan), Yushenko (former president of Ukraine) and many more leaders from the former republics of the U.S.S.R.  If my readers want to help me out with naming the characters, that would be GREAT help!

[thanks to one of my blog readers, some of the mystery is solved about the other dignitaries in this collage: Junichiro Koizumi (name of the Japanese Prime-Minister); next to Bush is Berluskoni (Italy), Mikheil Saakashvili (Georgia) and Hu Jintao (China);

On the right: Can’t figure out the person behind Yeltsin, but then as you said Putin, behind him is Lukashenko (Belorus), Bakiyev (Kyrgyz Republic), behind him is, to me he looks like Gerhard Shroeder (Germany), Emomoli Rahmonov (Tajikistan), can’t tell for sure, think it’s Ahmet Necdet Sezer (Turkey,)  Lukashenko (Belorus), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), Yushenko, Robert Kocharyan (Armenia)]

7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    On the left:

    Junichiro Koizumi (name of the Japanese Prime-Minister);

    next to Bush is Berluskoni (Italy), Mikheil Saakashvili (Georgia) and Hu Jintao (China);

    On the right:

    Can’t figure out the person behind Yeltsun, but then as you said Putin, behind him is Lukashenko (Belorus), Bakiyev (Kyrgyz Republic), behind him is, to me he looks like Gerhard Shroeder (Germany), Emomoli Rahmonov (Tajikistan), can’t tell for sure, think it’s Ahmet Necdet Sezer (Turkey,) Lukashenko (Belorus), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), Yushenko, Robert Kocharyan (Armenia).

    Hope this helps.

    • 2

      kazaknomad said,

      This helps a LOT, thanks! What I can’t figure out is why Korea does not have a presence in this mural? Maybe then it would be a question of whether to add North as well as South Korea. China is certainly portrayed but in the background. Each position of the men in this collage piece must have some symbolic significance. Wish I knew more about this, maybe others in the know can shed more light on this piece of art.

  2. 3

    “Politics is a terribly murky topic to write about” you are right. but as you said, many people like to see cold war movies which are basically about politics.

    That’s a nice painting anyway.

  3. 4

    gracio said,

    where is Yeltzin??? can’t find him.
    I just wonder why that many people do not understand that cold war was another stage of a Great Game.

  4. 5

    gracio said,

    and it still goes one, btw.

    • 6

      kazaknomad said,

      Yeltsin was unintentionally cropped from my original photo because of the angle which I took this shot of the very large mural. (As I recall it must be about 30 feet long and about 10 feet high) Yeltsin’s hands are clapping in front of Putin. I should try to find the original and put that on my blog. Definitely Yeltsin has a presence in this “collage” but too bad that Gorbachev does not. He was a friend of the president of KZ, probably still is.

      Yes the Cold War continues whether we like it or not, it has taken a different look and maybe even more complex with the former republics falling like dominoes. But I don’t want to get into that!!!

  5. 7

    kazaknomad said,

    Yeltsin was unintentionally cropped from my original photo because of the angle which I took this shot of the very large mural. (As I recall it must be about 30 feet long and about 10 feet high) Yeltsin’s hands are clapping in front of Putin. I should try to find the original and put that on my blog. Definitely Yeltsin has a presence in this “collage” but too bad that Gorbachev does not. He was a friend of the president of KZ, probably still is.

    Yes the Cold War continues whether we like it or not, it has taken a different look and maybe even more complex with the former republics falling like dominoes. But I don’t want to get into that!!!


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