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Author Topic: Oscar-Winning Director Bigelow Recalls Working on K-19 in Russia  (Read 1461 times)

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Oscar-Winning Director Bigelow Recalls K-19 work in Russia

Bigelow fondly recalls her experience of working in Russia. “When I was shooting K-19 I really fell in love with Russia and the incredible strength of the people I met there,” she says. “Even the woman in the hotel who delivered coffee spoke five languages and also had a degree in atomic physics! I left Russia wishing the educational system in my country could be half as effective.”

It took her five years to research and prepare the script for K-19. She was consumed by the story after seeing a Russian documentary on the atomic submarine’s ill-fated maiden voyage that National Geographic had broadcast for western audiences. Bigelow felt personally committed to telling the submariners’ story. “It was a fascinating story. I thought the story was a vital slice of history that should be told.”

“In mainstream Hollywood at the time, the Russians had not been treated as heroes,” she recalls. “But I felt that if a member of the audience could begin to identify with these submariners and want them to survive, then you crossed the Rubicon so to speak. That’s what set me on my journey.”

When she first traveled to Russia to research the story she met with resistance. “I wanted to speak to the survivors. I don’t speak Russian, so I had to use an interpreter and there was a lot of suspicion, not only because I was an American film maker and a woman, but because Hollywood mainstream films had not portrayed Russians in a way that was respectful. I tried to talk them through it to show them my commitment and understanding of the story and that it was meant to be a tribute.”

Not only did the survivors begin to open up, but the Russian government did as well. She was finally able to achieve her ultimate goal, setting foot on the deck of the actual K-19, becoming the first Western civilian to visit the Russian Northern Fleet Naval Base in the Kola Peninsula. | Forum