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Heavy skies and a cold Soviet feel: Helsinki as a Cold War cinematic body double

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During the 1970s and 1980s, American and British films, and spy films in particular, situated in Moscow and Leningrad were regularly shot in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, since the film crews could not work inside the Soviet Union. This article addresses the creation of a ‘Soviet feel’ through the use of Helsinki locations in films such as Gorky Park (Apted, 1983) and Telefon (Siegel, 1977) in the geopolitical context of the Cold War and Finland’s location as both a hub for international espionage and something of a border zone between the eastern and western power blocs. This analysis is connected to a broader consideration of Cold War geography, cinematic cities as body doubles and the ‘agentiality’ of urban spaces in film.
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Keywords: Cold War; Helsinki; Soviet Union; cinema; cityscapes; film locations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Turku

Publication date: 01 March 2015

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  • The Journal of Scandinavian Cinema is a new scholarly journal devoted to film in the Scandinavian countries. It aims to become the prime site for excellent research and engaging discussions on cinema in Scandinavia, both within the national context of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and as a region existing in a globalized world.
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