It’s called artistic license. Feature films often rewrite history and most of the time we love it. Take Quentin Tarantino’s movies or award-winning costume dramas like The Favourite or rose-tinted backward glances like The Green Book.
But what if revisionist feature films become a tool of government propaganda? Here are five films whose treatment of history made headlines for being celluloid agitprop.
1. In 2018, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russian state-controlled international news network RT wrote a screenplay for a film that her husband directed and the culture ministry funded. “The Crimean Bridge: Made with Love!” is a romantic comedy set on the 11-mile-long road that connects Russia to the Crimea peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. The film depicts how beautiful life is in Russian controlled Crimea, takes a shot at lying American journalists, reveres Russia’s victory in WWII and glosses over the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars by Stalin in 1944. Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov attended the premiere in Moscow, praising the film that people on forums and in reviews called propaganda or trash. “Leaving the theater,” Anton Dolin, a film critic at the independent publication Meduza wrote. “Just like after seeing a 3D film, you automatically start looking for the box in which to drop your rose-tinted glasses.”