Study Guide

From Russia With Love Setting

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Nobody's Business but the Turks

Bond has more frequent flier miles than the Trivago guy, who's totally a secret agent hiding in plain sight and you know it. 007 continues his globetrotting by visiting Istanbul in From Russia with Love. Surprisingly, he doesn't actually visit Russia in this movie.

Instead, Bond sees an Anglicized version of Turkey. Kerim Bey, his ostensible guide, is a British agent, not a tour guide, so Bond sees very few tourist sites in the city and takes in little to no "local color." One pivotal scene does occur in the famous Hagia Sophia, a jewel of classic architecture that's served as a church, a mosque, a museum, and a Dan Brown plot device.

Aside from that little jaunt, Bond sees very little of Istanbul. If you want to see the city, you'll need to book your own trip instead of living vicariously through Bond. Maybe the Trivago guy can hook you up with reservation deals and some top-secret spy gadgets. Just mention Shmoop and Kerim Bey.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

Accusations of racism and sexism are often tossed at older Bond films like little grenades. From Russia with Love efficiently combines the two during its random detour to the "gypsy" camp in the middle of the movie. This long scene features the following:

  • Kerim Bey referring to the Romani tribe as "gypsies" and admitting he uses them as pawns against the Bulgarians.
  • A woman belly dancing for almost three minutes, an eternity in movie time.
  • Two girls engaged in what film critic Gerardo Valero calls the "gypsy cat fight" and "more laughable than anything else" (source).

Similar to the native Jamaicans in Dr. No, the locals in From Russia with Love are depicted as tools of the British. They serve the British Secret Service, entertain them, feed them, and even die for them. And they want you to think the Soviets are the bad guys. Ah, imperialism.

There Might Be Bad Guys

If we were the head of an international criminal organization, we wouldn't name our hideout The Evil Mastermind Zone. Actually, that sounds pretty fun, if a little cartoonish. But it would be like a neon sign saying, "Hey, all the bad guys are here!"

SPECTRE didn't get the memo to be secret when they named their hideout SPECTRE Island. It sounds more like a theme park than a training ground for assassins. On SPECTRE Island, they practice with machine guns, flame throwers, swords, and karate skills against live targets. Number Three approves:

NUMBER THREE: Training is useful. But there is no substitute for experience.

If there's a carousel in the sadistic theme park of SPECTRE Island, we don't see it. But we know it's there, and it probably has real horses to trample betrayers.

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