Indiana Jones Irks Communists

St. Petersburg communists are campaigning against the new Indiana Jones movie, complaining that its portrayal of the Russian villains is insulting and historically inaccurate.

"We are really outraged by this film, which has nothing to do with reality," Veronika Klinovitskaya, a spokeswoman for the Communists of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, said by telephone Friday.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" features Jones, a swashbuckling archaeologist played by Harrison Ford, competing with Soviet agents and soldiers to obtain a precious artifact. Cate Blanchett plays a KGB agent with paranormal powers.

The film is the fourth chapter of the highly successful Indiana Jones franchise, and it came out in Russian theaters on Thursday.

Set in 1957, "Crystal Skull" marks the first time that Jones has done battle with Russians. In two of the previous Indiana Jones films, the villains were Nazis.

The communist group, which is not affiliated with the official Communist Party, posted a statement on its web site Thursday calling the film "a belch of the Cold War" and a "vile lampoon."

The film depicts Soviet soldiers and agents "in a caricatured and unattractive way" and encourages "idolization of the United States," the statement says.

Klinovitskaya criticized the "disgusting" portrayal of Soviet soldiers and said Blanchett's depiction of a KGB agent was "warped."

She also questioned the historical timing of the film, which is set in the same year that the Soviet Union sent the first man-made satellite into orbit. "It was a great year for the Soviet Union," she said.

The group is going to attend film showings and make noise in protest, Klinovitskaya said.

It is also printing 10,000 leaflets and e-mailing the film's stars, Ford and Blanchett, whom the site calls "puppets of imperialism."

Members may also contact the film's director, Steven Spielberg, Klinovitskaya said. "We haven't found his address yet."

Alexander Yushchenko, a spokesman for Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, said the protesters "aren't Communists" and that he could not comment until he had seen the film.

In an interview published last week in Komsomolskaya Pravda, Spielberg described himself as "Russian" since his family originates from Ukraine.

He said the villains had to be Russians. "The Second World War had finished, and the Cold War began. America didn't have other enemies at that time."

Asked why Blanchett's character has the unlikely sounding name of Irina Spalko, the paper reported that he laughed and said, "Blame the scriptwriters."

Nobody was available for comment Friday at the film's Russian distributor, Universal Pictures International.

Meanwhile, critics are divided on the film's presentation of Russians.

A critic on Gazeta.ru called Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Spalko "caricatured," adding that he hoped "she didn't sell herself cheaply."

But a reviewer in Izvestia commented that: "We shouldn't be offended. We are the only people in the world who can understand Blanchett's heart-rending shrieks."