For those of you who are unfamiliar with the title, it’s the name of a movie made about the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. It has a measure of popularity here in Georgia, but was criticised elsewhere in the world profusely for ‘inaccurately portraying events’.
Now that’s true to an extent. It is a very pro-Georgia film, certainly, but that’s to be expected. Is it a good film? Sure, it’s a good movie, not up there as an all-time great and full of cheesy dialogue and there’s a slow-motion running scene that had me rolling around the floor it was so Baywatch, but on the whole yes, it’s an okay film. The plot is very predictable, and there’s a few loopholes here and there, but it’s a 5/6 out of 10 affair.
So what really shocked me was the comments on YouTube. Almost everyone in the West I’ve ever spoken to outside of academic or military circles has never heard of South Ossetia or Abkhazia. At best you might get them to remember the papers a few years ago and they’ll say ‘Oh, was that there? Didn’t much come of it, if I remember rightly’. Everyone on YouTube, however, seems to be an expert.
I use the word loosely. The level we’re talking about is actually along the lines of ‘FUCK GEORGIA!!!!’, ‘No one gives a shit!!!!’ or, my favourite ‘this is Georgian propaganda!!’. Ah, yes. Georgian propaganda indeed. What I find most amusing about that is how many American films have been released and never described as ‘American propaganda’. I’ll give you some examples: almost every WW2 film, which is basically ‘How the Americans won the war for the rest of us’, and usually leaves out the fact that the US entered the war late with no experienced personnel, and how the British were all ‘I say!’ posh toffs with no clue about war. Or films about Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, all US military disasters that they seem to think they’ve won.
Our panel of YouTube experts seem to get their opinions from reviews given by newspapers and the like, who all (oddly enough) agree with the opinion of the UN, EU, NATO and every other useless acronym organisation on the planet, namely: this is bad because it might upset Russia.
I’m sure I’ve documented elsewhere my disdain towards American foreign policy in Georgia during the war. Well, America’s tactic of diving for cover and then creeping back into Georgia after the smoke cleared was echoed internationally, each organisation deeming it safer to blame Tbilisi for starting the war.
Well, I think Saakashvili jumped the gun a bit, but as a military man, you can’t just summon an invasion force out of thin air. These things take time to prepare, and weeks before the war Russia co-ordinated a massive exercise simulating the circumstances of an ivasion; a dress-rehearsal, if you like. Furthermore, months before the first shots were fired, South Ossetians were issued Russian passports en masse. These facts were conveniently ignored by the Western press. The reaction to this film seems to me largely people just jumping on the band-wagon.
You see, it’s my belief that after the end of the Cold War, the West has gone rather soft. Russia’s communism had been abandoned in place of ‘democracy’ so the threat to the West was over. Well, it seems Russia begs to differ. The war in 2008 was a test against American resolve. A test to see if America still had the guts to challenge Russia with a forceful response. Cowards they may have seemed to some by quickly dropping the problem in the EU’s lap, but the Americans knew Saakasvhili was desperate enough to come crawling back to them even after his faith in them had been so widely misplaced, and the disdain of the Georgian public is preferable to damaged relations with the Russians. So with a West that’s getting softer and an East that’s becoming ever-more determined and harder, where is the world going?
To get back on topic, I’m appalled by how many people online take delight in Georgia’s defeat, one man even laughing at Georgia’s forced inclusion to the Soviet Union. Saakashvili is playing it all wrong: the West could not care less. Still, getting back on topic with the film, I don’t think its fair its reviews were so bad when films that are far worse get all the awards…though I appreciate that’s a matter of opinion. But I wonder, with a West that desperately wants Russia to be angels and no possibility of anything ever ever ever going wrong, like a child with its head underneath the pillow, what will become of us?