The Soviet ‘James Bond’

Standartenfuhrer von Stirlitz is a Soviet spy who was highlighted in the hit series, Seventeen Moments of Spring, which originally aired in 1973. His popularity in Russia is truly comparable to that of James Bond’s in the west. However, his character is starkly different other than the fact that he is a spy and likes to drive fast as “flirting with danger facilitates clear thinking”. Throughout the 12 episode series, he only kills one person as the show is based more on suspense than action. Also unlike Bond, he avoids the opportunity to indulge in laying with women as he once said, “I’d rather have a cup of coffee”(1). Nevertheless, Stirlitz was a figurehead symbol for the Soviet population. He was the reason nearly 80 million television viewers were glued to their screens during each episode, making it the most successful show of the time (2). As this was only two decades after the Great Patriotic War, memories of lives lost were still fresh in the minds of many citizens of the USSR. It was also uncommon for someone to not have lost a relative during the war (3). This created a strong link between ordinary citizens and a fictional character. The show’s popularity has not faded out in present day Russia. In 2009, a colorized version of the series was produced by several international companies (2).

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4 Replies to “The Soviet ‘James Bond’”

  1. Great job! This is interesting because we learned about how tv played a role in the concept of the ‘good communist family’, so to learn about something that held the interest of citizens at the time is really cool.

  2. That “Soviet James Bond” source you cite is really interesting! Thanks for writing about Stirlitz. He remains a compelling television character even after all these years. I wonder if there isn’t another (less offensive) way of writing describing the role played by women in the series?

  3. This is so cool! Admittedly I have never watched James Bond, I have only heard the name in popular culture. So thank you for noting the differences! This reminds me of how during and after WWII Americans idolized Captain America.

  4. I like the fact that your post was short and sweet but still very informational! I think it’s always interesting to see the parallels in different aspects of life, especially between the two super powers at the time! Great job!

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