Nazis vs. Soviets: Who's the better villain?

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by Obi-Ewan, May 8, 2009.

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  1. Sven_Starcrown Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2009
    star 4
    Middle Eastern terrorists dont make it for me.
  2. DeadOrAlive Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2009
    star 2
    What? Where in those films are there "Islamist terrorists"?
  3. Sven_Starcrown Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2009
    star 4
    These days almost any arab with a gun is a potential terrorist.
  4. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    Watch it, folks. You're treading on dangerous ground here. Let's try to keep generalizations of that nature out of this.
  5. Sven_Starcrown Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2009
    star 4
    I was refering to the post 911 mentality, i never said i belive what i wrote.
  6. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Mrrm...I'm going with the Nazis so far. The Russians in KoCS were cool, but the Nazis from Raiders and Last Crusade were just delightfully slimy villains.
  7. Jedi Vince Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 1999
    star 3
    The haunting imagery of Nazi Germany is something that can resonate with even the darkest soul. A mere thought of it conjures horrors of the Holocaust, and atrocities throughout the world committed by the Nazis.

    Of course this movement was embodied by possibly the face of evil in modern history: Adolf Hitler. He was a fanatic pro-abortion activist, he took over the auto industry, gave speeches to thousands of people shouting insipid chants with signs and flags showing a creepy circular symbol, preached socialist economic redistribution, social justice, and proceeded to murder millions in the most horrific manners imaginable.

    That's horrifying and it certainly makes an effective cinematic villain.

    However, for my money, the Soviets and Communists in general haunt me to the core. As a sustained political movement, historians believe Communists are responsible for over 100 million deaths worldwide, and the count is ongoing.

    Stalin and the Soviets personified this. Stalin himself is responsible for over 10 million deaths. To me, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did a great job in portraying this evil. Where the Nazis could eventually be defeated with more muscle, such is not the case with the Soviets.

    Irina Spalko herself in the film sought to use the crystal skull for mind control -- to teach their own version of history, and to eventually influence the enemy's forces in battle. Say what you want to about the film, but the Soviets resonated with me far more than the Nazis did. And to Lucas and Spielberg's credit, they did this without a hint of that nasty moral equivalence that seems to be all the rage in today's society.
  8. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    There really is no comparison.
    Reagan might have called the USSR the "evil empire" but relations with Russia were always shades of gray. With the Nazis there can be no nuance or negotiation--they are purely evil. The Nazis will always be more menancing and considering their historical atrocities, the audience will always sympathize more with the protagonist confronted by Nazi soldiers.

  9. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Relations with the Russians were indeed shades of grey, but that's solely because war with them would probably have led to the end of civilization through nuclear war. I doubt the Cold War would have stayed cold if we'd somehow managed to keep the atomic bomb secrets from them-plus of course Europe was in no mood to have a third epic-scale conflict on their soil in less than a century.


    The Russians still did plenty of incredibly horrific things; it's just that doing much about them wasn't particularly feasible.
  10. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    That is true Boba--but the Russians don't take on the popular culture connotation that Nazis do in present day society. Stalin might have been just as brutal--in fact his purges were likely far more brutal...but in our social memory, it's the Nazis who are accorded the evil. It's the images of concentration camps, goose stepping armies on parade, and book burning...
  11. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I know, Seldon, but there's no particular reason that a film series that has education as one of it's goals couldn't illustrate some of this.

    Heck, Indy already made the Russians angry with the first film showing their prior government to be the shadowy monsters they were.
  12. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    I understand where you're going with this...but is education really a principal goal? In devising each film's mcgruffin, there have been significant changes and distortions to historical fact and mythology (other-dimensional beings, magic stones, and the incredible power of the arc.) The Indy films use history and established religion/mythology as a background to merely enrich the story. I've never seen it as education.

    As such, I'd argue that the distinction between Nazis and Soviet soldiers is never made. It was never even really considered. Though, I'm sure if you asked Spielberg who the bigger villains were--he wouldn't hesistate in arguing the Nazis.

    Also consider this, Indiana would never compromise or help the Nazis (with notable exceptions--i.e. saving his father.) In stark contrast, he helped the Soviets a good deal (albeit with reluctance.) Not sure if it means anything, but it's something to consider.

  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Sure, I'd definitely say education-albeit in a fun-first way-is a primary goal of the Indy films, and definitely the young Indy TV series.


    And at the risk of sounding pretty insensitive, of course Spielberg is going to say the Nazis were worse; I wouldn't doubt he lost ancestors in the Holocaust. Not saying that would make that point invalid, but he's got a personal stake.


    As for which is more actually evil-the Nazis were world players for barely over a decade. The USSR's monstrosity and callousness towards it's own citizens and neighboring countries lasted for seventy years, and there's still a strong degree of animosity between most of Eastern Europe and Russia that's not going to go away any time soon. Plus of course there's the fact that none of the people who committed crimes against humanity inside of the USSR proper were ever tried for what they did.


    But back to the movies-Indy helped the Soviets because people he cared about were being threatened with death. He's not going to be "Pfft, whatever, shoot Marion in the head." :p

    Under less odds-stacked circumstances, I don't doubt that he'd be as opposed to them as he was to the Nazis.


    And back to my education point-it might make the Soviets easier villains to take seriously if the following Indy films did talk about some of the things that went on behind the Iron Curtain; the major viewing block of American society, at least, was all of nine or ten, or not even born yet, at the end of the USSR, and even older people probably are not very familiar with the sorts of things the Soviets did.

    Nobody needs to ask why the Nazis are bad; they happily showed it anyway (albeit in a fairly mild form) in The Last Crusade, with the Berlin scene and Henry's various speeches about them. I think the Russians could use similar stuff in the next film or two to give them abit of scumminess as villains.
  14. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    My point on Spielberg was clearly he has a personal stake and is biased. He is making the film...so his bias is going to be a factor in their portrayal. That has an impact on which group makes the better villain in the films.

    I'm still going to say that we can't call the films purely educational. I really have no backing in the Young Indy series--so all of my comments are directed at the four movies. In the movies, historical fact takes a backseat.

    Finally, I agree in the oppression and violence of the Soviet Union. My argument is basically that for many Americans, Stalin doesn't stack up to a Hitler (in terms of evil.) It might be entirely wrong, but that is the social feeling. Hitler is equated with absolute evil.

    I'll concede the point on Marion and Indy being hostages in KOTCS.

    EDIT: I agree with your last point. There needs to be more explanation for the casual film goer of what the Russians are and why they're evil...Similar to the Last Crusade sermons of Henry Sr.
  15. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I know Stalin doesn't stack up to Hitler for Americans. But quite frankly, he should, and these films are a good opportunity to illustrate that.


    And thanks for conceding that Indy wouldn't want to see Marion get shot. :p


  16. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    I agree. It is myopic to view Hitler as the manifestation of evil in the 20th Century when individuals like Stalin and Mao often exceeded the Nazis in sheer number of atrocities.

    On Marion: It was a real difficult point to concede. ;)
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I think the thing with Stalin & Mao's atrocities is that they were never publicized. What the Nazis did obviously was.

    Plus of course the scale of what they did is frankly mind-numbing; I recall the number of deaths attributed to Stalin as being 20 million or so. That's a huge amount of people; to compare it to something now, it's as if everyone living in New York State did all at once.
  18. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    It certainly explains the old Stalin quote:
    "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." He would know.
  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    No kidding.


    But yeah-the Soviets have huge villain potential, and I hope the next couple of films lets them live up to that.
  20. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    All relevant history aside, to simply judge the villains by their portrayal in the films (without knowing any background on Nazis or Soviets.) I'd say that the Nazis would still come off as more menacing and diabolical in the Indy movies. Why? It was always clear that the Nazis sought absolute power and world domination. Having the holy grail would equate with invincible armies marching across Europe--marching across the world. The arc supposedly had unspeakable powers for Hitler to unleash. While psychic warfare would have great potential, Irina came off as a looney. From her first moment on scene (when she tried to read Indy's mind) she came off as insane. Furthermore, her quest was far more personal. It was never completely clear if she was receiving direct orders or was completely AWOL but attempting to advance the Soviet cause. In both Raiders and Last Crusade, it was clear that Nazi actions were top down...and part of a larger strategy.

    -Seldon

  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    True, that's a good point.

    Heh, it just goes to show how utterly close to being movie bad guys in real life the Nazis were-it doesn't take much to make them Indy's Sith Order, so to speak.

    I've always gotten a pretty strong vibe that in Indy's world, Nazis really were inspired by the Devil or whatever, especially with Henry's speeches about them in The Last Crusade, and the imagery of the book-burning from the same film. You get a really strong feeling along the lines of 'these guys are the end of civilization if they win'.

    Which of course they probably would have been in real life as well.





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