Russia on Wednesday cancelled the release of a Hollywood thriller set in the Stalin era on grounds it distorts history and would be shown as the country celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in WWII.
The film, “Child 44”, starring Tom Hardy, Vincent Cassel and Gary Oldman, tells the story of a serial killer who targets children in the Stalin era. It is based on a fantasy novel by British writer Tom Rob Smith and was due to premiere in Russia on Thursday.
Russia’s culture ministry said the film’s distributors in Russia, Central Partnership, had agreed to withdraw a request for a distribution licence after ministry officials viewed the film.
“Films such as ‘Child 44’ should not go out in our country on mass release, earning money from our cinema audiences, not in the year of the 70th anniversary of victory, not ever,” Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky wrote on the ministry’s website.
The move to effectively ban a major mainstream Hollywood film just a day before it was due to premiere was unprecedented.
In recent years, Russia has cracked down harshly on negative depictions of the Soviet Union during the Stalin era, while criticism of those who fought in World War II is frowned upon.
The culture ministry accused the film of “distortion of historical facts and the idiosyncratic treatment of events before, during and after” World War II.