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East West (Est-ouest)

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

June 1946: Stalin launches a vast propaganda campaign aimed at Russian emigrants living in the West, offering them an amnesty, a Soviet passport and the chance to participate in the post-war reconstruction of the USSR. Alexei Golovin (Oleg Menshikov), an emigrant living in France responds to this appeal along with many others. He decides to return to the mother country which he has missed so deeply, taking his young French wife, Marie (Sandrine Bonnaire), and his son Seryozha (Ruben Tupiero at age 7 and Erwan Baynaud at age 14), with him.

On arrival in Odessa, Stalin's welcome is not what they had expected. Many of their travelling companions are executed on the spot or sent to forced labour camps. Alexei and his family escape this fate and are sent to Kiev simply because the Soviet authorities realise that they have much to gain from this young doctor. He will be paraded as an example, a model returnee. This is the price Alexei has to pay to save Marie and Seryozha.

Persons of interest

  • Sandrine Bonnaire .... Marie
  • Oleg Menshikov .... Alexeï
  • Catherine Deneuve .... Gabrielle
  • Sergei Bodrov Jr .... Sacha
  • Ruben Tapiero .... Seryozha, age 7
  • Erwan Baynaud .... Seryozha, age 14
  • Grigori Manukov .... Pirogov
  • Tatyana Dogileva .... Olga
  • Bogdan Stupka .... Colonel Boyko
  • Meglena Karalambova .... Nina Fyodorovna
  • Atanass Atanassov .... Viktor
  • Tania Massalitinova .... Alexandrovna
  • Valentin Ganev .... Volodya Petrov
  • Nikolai Binev .... Sergei Kozlov
  • Sergei Bodrov .... Screenwriter
  • Louis Gardel .... Screenwriter
  • Régis Wargnier .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Reds under the beds.

If you thought that living in Little Johnny Howard's relaxed and comfortable Australia was rough, imagine how it was to live under Stalin. Oh, you don't have to. But if you want to see it from the outside looking in then this the film for you. Poverty, over-crowding, denouncing, fear, brutality, East West shows just how far the Russian dictators warped communism (gidday China, owyergoan?). The ultimate level playing field was made from ploughed under Russian souls and fertilised with Russian blood.

East West centres on the plight of one family, trapped by love for home and husband, rescued by the sacrifice of same. It is about the ties that bind you to your homeland, to your family, to your friends, to souls that pass by too afraid to speak openly but too compassionate to refuse you succour. Oleg and Sandrine personify the suffering of anyone who must never show that they are suffering lest further misfortune befall them. Hang on... "succour? lest?" I used "succour" and "lest" in as many sentences? Sheesh, that porridge I had for breakfast this morning must've been a bit off.

Anyhoo, their performances from joy to hate to fear to longing to suffering will suck you into the cold heart of Stalinism and make you suffer alongside them. Sergei does a great line in boy candy and displaying the never-ending ways a person can suffer: for his family, for his home, for his heart, for his body and for his soul. This guy should be snapped up by a Hollywood agent to make films for the English-speaking world: you deserve no less.

Your heart will go out to every character in this film, even the bad boys from the KGB, because it is so well made. East West is for anyone who can remember the USSR, glasnost or perestroika; is for anyone who is no longer relaxed and comfortable.

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, low level violence)

Surveillance time

125 minutes (2:05 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 21 February 2001

Cinema surveillance images

East West (Est-ouest) image
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