EASTERN PROMISES (2007)
Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Vincent Cassel star in this David Cronenberg’s thriller concerning a London midwife who unwittingly stumbles into a clandestine Russian sex trafficking ring. Though midwife Anna Khitrova (Watts) does manage to deliver a healthy baby girl, the newborn’s mother dies tragically during delivery. But the deceased mother’s secrets did not die with her, because she has left behind a diary. And guess who is after the diary? Eastern Promises is a straightforward, straight-up Russian gangster movie whose primary achievement is making the Russian gangster underworld feel exotic and menacing. Of course the critics some of them did not like it so much not that I listen the critics that much anyway. For the bathhouse fight scene, the scene was choreographed with the actors (not stuntmen), the actors had to train in specific fighting styles chosen for their characters and it took two days to shoot on location in London. According to the DVD commentary, both Mortensen and Cronenberg agreed that Nikolai had to fight his would-be killers completely nude. he film, shot in England, marked the first time director David Cronenberg shot a movie entirely outside of Canada. Naomi Watts discovered she was pregnant with her son Alexander two weeks into shooting this movie. She initially tried to hide it, but costume designer Denise Cronenberg found out about it. To prepare for his role, Viggo Mortensen traveled alone to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Ural Mountain region of Siberia, where he spent five days driving around without a translator. He read books on the gangs of the vory v zakone (thieves in law), Russian prison culture and the importance of prison tattoos as criminal résumés, and perfected his character’s Siberian accent and learned lines in Russian, Ukrainian and English. During filming, he used worry beads made in prison from melted-down plastic cigarette lighters and decorated his trailer with copies of Russian icons. One day after shooting, Viggo Mortensen went to a pub without washing off his tattoos or even changing out of his costume. He claims that some of the patrons became very frightened of him, assuming he was a real member of Vory v Zakone. The tattoos around Nickolai’s (‘Viggo Mortenson’) ankles read “Where are you going?” and “What the fuck do you care?” in Russian. Mortenson thought that they were hilarious, that ‘one foot doesn’t respect the other’.Jerzy Skolimowski claims to be an ex-KGB agent. In ‘White Nights’ (1985) he was one. None of the characters who were members of the Vory v Zakone used a gun throughout the movie. The reason for this is that when doing research on Russian organized crime, David Cronenberg discovered that members of the Vory v Zakone typically prefer to use knives instead of guns. The rationale for this is that if Vory v Zakone members were arrested by police and questioned as to why they were in possession of such weapons, the suspects could evade suspicion by claiming that the knives were simply for linoleum cutting.