|The films sees characters played by Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman|
team up to try and stop a serial killer
The culture ministry says that the movie, which was due to be released on Friday, was withdrawn after a preview screening raised concerns. Issues included a "peculiar interpretation of events before, during and after the Great Patriotic War as well as images and characters of Soviet citizens living in that historical period", the ministry statement says, using the Russian term for the conflict with Nazi Germany. It adds that showing "this type of film" in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of victory in World War Two is "unacceptable".
The film stars British actor Tom Hardy as a disgraced Soviet secret police agent who's trying to track down a serial child killer in Stalin-era Russia. Hardy's character is pitted against a "system-wide cover-up" and those who deny crimes can exist in a utopian state, according to the film's own website. But the film's characterisation of Soviet officers has displeased Russian officials. Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has complained that it depicts them as "physically and morally base sub-humans" and makes the country seem like Mordor - the fictional and terrifying land in Lord of the Rings, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti.
One Russian film producer says the decision not to release Child 44 is bad for the country's film industry. "Before, films where Soviet and Russian heroes were presented not in the best way have been released in Russia, but nothing similar happened," Alexander Rodnyansky tells the RBK business news website. "Now everything to do with history should clearly fit into a kind of framework set by the culture ministry."
What is behind this sudden intolerance of criticism? Actually it is not sudden at all as opposition leaders, reporters, lawyers, and ex-KGB agents who have criticized Russia, or to be specific, Putin, have been murdered in recent years.
Are they Soviet KGB officers who are portrayed so harshly? If so, is that likely to offend President Putin who was a KGB agent? So is it Russia that is unable to accept criticism, or is it just Putin?
In my experience, people who are unable to accept criticism graciously, usually suffer from pride issues. It may be real or false pride. False pride often occurs in someone lacking self-confidence, who wants to hide that fact. While it seems absurd to accuse Mr Putin of a lack of confidence, I can't help but wonder if his confidence has been shaken by some obscure event.
Who knows? But it's a disturbing trend that seems inline with a retreat back into communism - a place where, I believe, Mr Putin would be more comfortable.