It seems that just about everyone has a few favorite movies they can watch over and over. I caught one of my favorites on television the other evening - director Tom McTiernan’s 1990 The Hunt for Red October. It is the first in novelist Tom Clancy’s series about the Catholic educated Soviet-era analyst-turned-president Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin here, then Harrison Ford took over). Even though the film was released as the totalitarian Iron Curtain was disintegrating, the intelligent cat-and-mouse game between the captain of a Soviet nuclear sub and Jack Ryan and a US nuclear sub still makes for great viewing no matter how many times I see it.
Captain Marko Raimus (Sean Connery) and a few members of the crew are trying to defect, with their submarine, to the United States. Jack Ryan figures this out, and how Raimus will save his crew.
I was watching the film as if I had not seen it before, appreciating how well the narrative is put together, the crisp dialogue, knowing how it will end. Then one scene transcended history and politics before my very eyes because context is everything, and the audience context had changed. If I had seen this a couple of months ago, I am not sure I would have noticed.
Captain Vasili Borodin (Sam Neill) and Captain Raimus are talking about their dreams in when they get asylum in America:
Borodin says, “I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck... maybe even a ‘recreational vehicle.’ And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?”
Captain Raimus replies, “I suppose.”
Then Borodin asks, “No papers?” “No papers, state to state,” answers Raimus.
Borodin continues wistfully, “Well then, in winter I will live in ... Arizona….”
Borodin dies during a shootout at the end. Perhaps it was a mercy.
(Please note that Participant Productions will release a documentary on the continuing nuclear threat by nuclear stockpiles through accident or malicious intent, COUNTDOWN TO ZERO, in late July.)