The Spy (Russian film)

Spy / Шпион

Published: June 22, 2016

Spy (Шпион) is a Russian film released in 2012. It is based on the novel Spy Novel (Шпионский роман) by well-known Russian novelist Boris Akunin. Akunin contributed to the film’s screenplay.

The film takes place in 1941, shortly before the Nazi invasion of the USSR. Nazi agents are trying to convince the Russian leadership that there will be no war so that they won’t make any preparations. Two Russian intelligence agents, Egor Dorin and Oktyabrskiy, capture a German spy in Moscow to try to find out Hitler’s plans.

Critics’ responses to the film were mixed, with most finding more to praise than criticize., however, strongly criticized the adaptation, saying that fans of Akunin’s novels would find little to like in the film and that all the fun of the book had been lost in the film version. The site Moskovskie Novosti disagreed, saying that the film could be compared to the recent highly popular American adaptations of comics, such as Captain America. The minus the reviewer pointed out was that the film could be seen as positively describing Stalinist socialism and its organs of repression. Gazeta called it the “first successful screen adaptation” of one of Akunin’s novels (it was the sixth). Many reviewers commented on the fascinating view of Moscow that the film gave—the director created an alternate version of the city for the film, incorporating many structures which the Communists had planned to build but never completed. Thus, the film shows what the Communist authorities envisioned Moscow to be rather than what it actually was at the time. Seance magazine compared this version of Moscow to Gotham City.

Director: Aleksey Andrianov
Stars: Danila Kozlovskiy, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Vladimir Epifantsev, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Viktoria Tolstoganova
Production company: Studiya TriTe; Telekanal Rossiya
Total earnings: $4.59 million


Official trailer:

The Spy (Russian film)


About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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