May 01, 2015

Note Book

Russia’s Rodina (Motherland) TV series was meant to be a knock-off of the popular American TV series Homeland – the psychological drama about love, loyalty and betrayal featuring a CIA analyst and a treacherous US marine returning home after a horrific captivity (Homeland is in fact based on a lesser known Israeli series).

But the final product was neither here nor there. It has been mocked by critics for its failure to delve into the complex and unsavory aspects of hyper-patriotism, and it has been snubbed by nationalists for its portrayal of “traitors.”

The series, shown on Russian state television, transferred the plot to Russia in the late 1990s, with the hero/traitor returning home after several years in prison (in vaguely explained circumstances) in the North Caucasus. Director Pavel Lungin hired some of Russia’s top stars, including Vladimir Mashkov (as Major Alexei Bragin) and Sergei Makovetsky. In the finale of the first season, Bragin goes to a Kremlin event wearing a suicide belt.

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