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Fridge / The Hunt for Red October

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Fridge Logic

  • The Russian Crew has been rescued by the American Navy after they bail due to a "radiation leak". Then they believe their captain is fighting the Americans and cheer... on the deck of the American Warship that saved their butts. Not exactly polite. One has to wonder how the American crew reacted.
    • Unhappy, probably, but cheering alone is hardly good reason to start mistreating detainees on the high seas.
    • Related, one wonders what the American crew's reaction was to witnessing the destruction of a Soviet nuclear submarine (admittedly not the one they thought was destroyed). Given the lack of cheers, probably stunned silence.
      • In fact, given that nobody on the ship has any way of immediately knowing which submarine was destroyed, the immediate reaction of all sailors witnessing the explosion was likely that of not knowing if their comrades had just died or not.
      • In truth, Navy sailors very rarely greet the sinking of any ship with celebration. Most of them find watching a ship go down a very sobering experience, bringing home as it does the fragility of any ship in face of the sea. Respectful silence is the most likely reaction from all sides. In fact, it is not unheard of for the crew of a warship to salute an enemy vessel they’ve sunk as she goes down.
  • Mancuso sent the message to Ramius via Morse Code. Presumably, that message was initially spelled out in English. Is Ramius familiar enough with Morse to both understand Mancuso's admittedly rusty transmission and translate it to Russian?
    • That may not be necessary - International Morse Code was made standard by the International Telecommunication Union in 1865, an agency now under aegis of the United Nations, and it's established Ramius knows English.

Fridge Brilliance

  • At one point the Soviet ambassador (played by Joss Ackland) is speaking to NSA Jeffery Pelt. Sweating profusely in a state of agitation, the ambassador tells Pelt that Captain Ramius has suffered a mental breakdown and will try to fire his missiles at the United States. This is a lie, of course, since Ramius is trying to defect and the Soviets want America to help them sink him before he can do that. When called on the fact that he hadn't mentioned this development before, the ambassador lamely blames Moscow for not telling him. Despite his nervousness, the ambassador lies well enough to get the Americans to go along with it . . . except that maybe the ambassador didn't actually lie. If you want someone to tell a lie well, it's helpful if they believe the lie themselves. Given the USSR's reputation for dishonesty, it's not hard to imagine that they decieved the ambassador himself so he would make a more compelling case to the Americans. And that's why the ambassador is sweating so hard. He believes that Ramius really has gone nuts and is about to nuke them, with the most likely target being right where he is sitting.
    • I've always thought that was what's going on. To make sure the ruse was complete, they just lied to their ambassador (and unseen, probably told at least the ambassadors to the UK and France and Canada the same lie), and possibly told their naval captains the same story as well. Maybe only a dozen people actually knew Ramius' intentions (namely, Admiral Padorin, Premier Chernenko, and a few others of Soviet Naval Command).
    • Another iteration - even if they had told the truth to their ambassador, he was so used to his bosses being liars that he didn't believe them, or at least did not know what to believe. If you think about it, everybody in the story except Ramius and those who know him best (his fellow officers and Ryan) is in the position of not knowing what to believe.
    • I just took it that Pelt, like all diplomats, knows that diplomacy is a game, and doesn't take anything other diplomats say at face value, but plays along. If Lysenko is lying or not, it doesn't matter, because that's just how diplomacy works. A person in Pelt's position probably kills for moments like the one at the end of the movie, when he takes everything Lysenko has told him and blows it right back in his face.
  • Ramius encouraged his men singing the Russian National Anthem - why? Because he knew they would give the sub away. Foreshadowed by Jones' Pavarotti story earlier in the film. Sure enough, Jones hears them singing.
  • In the novel, there is a scene where one of the many attack subs, the ES Politovski, undergoes a critical reactor failure that destroys the sub. In a rather obtuse way, this was foreshadowed earlier in the book, during the section describing Ramius' life. It stated that he had been baptized as a Roman Catholic but it could never be revealed, even to him, as 'Marxism-Leninism is a jealous god that allows no others'. The scene involving the Politovski has the zampolit overriding the chief engineer's request to back down on the dangerously overloaded reactor for repairs. The engineer protested in his mind about 'the Party thinking that physical laws could be overturned by the whim of an apparatchik'. In a round about way, Marxism-Leninism (as a godhood proxy as Ramius described it earlier) was being stealthily paralleled to a theocracy, where the fiat of the priests of the faith (or in this case, the Zampolitni of the Party) trumped everything, even nature itself. An irony there, considering the religious suppression in the Soviet era.
    • It's not that ironic, communism is commonly referred to as a "state religion" wherein the country itself is the object of worship. In other forms e.g. DPRK, the leader of the state is the object of worship, but it's ultimately the same thing. You don't want other religions getting in the way of your national purpose.
  • In the film, there is the opening disclaimer that says that "nothing of what you're about to see ever happened". But in the end credits, there's the standard disclaimer that "any similarity to real persons is purely coincidental.", which just makes you wonder even more if it really happened.
    • That's not much fridge brilliance. The novel is based on the official version (both in NATO and the Warsaw pact as it was convenient for both sides) of the mutiny led by Valery Sablin in 1976. Except it's very loosely based on this, as in reality, Sablin was a committed communist, was russian, was the ship's political officer, had the captain imprisoned, and was heading to Leningrad to make a radio address to the people of the soviet republics to rise up against the corrupt gerontocracy for a second communist revolution that would restore power to the soviets (more or less the general gist of what survives). He would have hated Ramius.
      • That mutiny is even mentioned in the novel when the plausibility of a mass defection is being debated.
    • The incident cited at the beginning of the film is likely a reference to the Yankee class submarine K-219, which actually sank in the areanote  after an explosion and fire in its missile bay which damaged the sub's reactor controls. Unlike Ramius, the captain was rescued along with the surviving crewmembers and returned to the Soviet Union.
  • Connery as Captain Ramius has a bit of Fridge Brilliance to it above and beyond it being, well, Sean Connery. Raimus is Lithuanian - and, therefore, would be presumed to have a fair bit of an accent in Russian, compared to a Great Russian "native" speaker of the language. So, when applying the Translation Convention to English, Connery's Scottish burr reflects that.
    • In Soviet Union no non-Russian could be a captain of a military ship, subs included. Even with Ramius being designated Russian on paper — as stated in the novel — it's a stretch that he could raise that high. An accent would make it even more impossible, so, no: Ramius didn't have an accent. And there is no real reason he should: yes, he was born Lithuanian, but he was raised among Russians, save for his father — who probably wasn't that close with his son; and it's a known fact that expat's children usually speak the language of the land they are in much better than their parents.
      • Actually not true. Though the Soviet system certainly favored ethnic Russians (and Georgians during Stalin's reign), it wasn't actually a requirement, provided the non-Russian officer proved himself professionally competent and politically reliable. The captain of K-129 (which sank under very suspicious circumstances somewherenote  northwest of Hawaii in 1968), Vladimir Kobzar, was Ukrainian—and Ukrainians are definitely not Russian.
  • With the Red October and USS Dallas sitting still during their meeting over the Laurentian Abyss in the film, both subs are as quiet as they can be. So how did the V.K. Konavalov zero in on them so easily? The DSRV. The DSRV was whacking away with its positioning sonar during its entire approach, essentially broadcasting their presence for miles. With both subs dead silent, Konavalov just homed in on the fool constantly honking the horn.
  • The cigarette share as the Americans first board the Red October both makes more sense and is much funnier with some context. When Jack bums a cigarette off Melekhin as a gesture of friendship, he screws up, essentially chokes on the smoke and good times are had by all, breaking the ice. However, when you account for the fact that Soviet cigarettes were practically legendary for their incredible awfulness - something of which the crew of the Red October were already painfully aware - their joking and laughter make even more sense. Melekhin's joke that Ryan was "turning green" was aimed as much at his fumbling the drag as it was at the fact that Ryan just took a good, long lungful of disgusting and held it too long. It's basically the same situation as friends watching an uninformed friend eat too much wasabi, and waiting for the inevitable.
    • Also recall that it was previously established that Jack Ryan doesn't smoke.
  • In the movie, it's made clear that Dr. Petrov is a doctor and therefore not trained by Ramius. Therefore, he isn't a person to be trusted with the plan. However, listen to how he speaks about his life on land; of the Bolshoi and his wife complaining about their dinner that night and of the rumors of who the newest dancer married. Compare him to the simple life Ramius misses, and especially to the book where such a man was responsible for the death of his wife. Little wonder Ramius wanted him out of the loop entirely.
    • Further, unlike Ramius, Petrov has far more to lose in the plan if Ramius were to successfully bring him in on it. Instead, he gets to return home to his wife and the ballet and his honor intact, having faithfully carried out his captain's orders and his duties to the men and the state.
  • The film's Book Ends have Jack flying across the Atlantic on an overnight flight. On the leg out, he tersely refuses to sleep, claiming the turbulence is keeping him awake (the flight attendant doesn't seem to buy this, and in fact we see that the turbulence doesn't start until after she moves on). Later on, it is revealed his fear of flying is because he nearly died in a helicopter crash when he was at the Academy. On the way back home, he is peacefully conked out sleeping. Maybe he overcame his fears, but given that it keeps getting brought up in dialogue that he hasn't had much chance to sleep through the entire adventure, he's probably just completely exhausted from several days of little sleep.
  • Ramius’s letter says quite a bit about Ramius, even more that is explicit in the book. Yes, it does smack of a massive middle finger to the State that betrayed him, but it would also be a sign of his loyalty to his crew even as he deceived them. Knowing that the Soviet navy would hunt him down, and duping his crew into believing he was going to scuttle the ship, he did much to protect them, as they would only know they were innocently following their orders, as the only ones in on the conspiracy (sans the GRU agent of course) were “lost with their ship”. Ramius lucked out big as the flushed out spy in D.C. gave the ‘survivors’ plausible deniability, but even without this, Ramius did give his crew a chance to escape potentially very nasty punishment.

Fridge Horror

  • Here's something a bit unsettling. Ok, so the Russians tell the US that Ramius is insane, and is getting ready to launch his warheads on the US. Now, let's think for a second, how many people in the Soviet Union were told this? Virtually none. Now, imagine that Moscow got what they wanted, and the US sunk the Red October, killing all on board... and then that information got back to the people of the Soviet Union... To them, the US just destroyed one of their submarines unprovoked, in international waters. The families of the crew (ESPECIALLY the ones with high enough political connections) would be calling for blood. Which, in itself, would spark a war. Not only that, but both Soviet, and NATO ships were within a hairs breath of one another, and during that political fiasco, tensions would likely be tight (something that's even pointed out in the film, three times). Now, could the USSR and NATO reach an agreement to avert a war? More then likely, but the tensions would be so tight it wouldn't take much to spark one. So basically, Ramius faking the reactor problem, getting his crew off in sight of an American Warship (that would likely attempt to stop them from submerging anyway, but wouldn't leave the crew stranded), and telling one of his officers that he intends to scuttle the ship, actually AVERTED a major war. Although the spectacle of a glorious Last Stand was certainly not planned, Captain Tupolev certainly helped cement that one.
    • Assuming they don't feed the families a line of official bullshit. In any case, that may have already been addressed in real life. In 1968, K-129 sank somewhere northwest of Hawaii, where according to the Soviet Pacific Fleet she had no business being, following some very unusual activity in her home port. The Soviets blame the US Navy, despite no evidence of American involvement. A couple months later, USS Scorpion mysteriously sinks off the Azores while investigating a Soviet task force. Both governments won't talk about these incidents, and no civilian expedition is allowed to dive on either wrecknote —even their exact coordinates are classified. This kind of thing could get swept under the rug with all the other Cold War skeletons.
  • Ramius visibly shows great concern for the lives of those of his crew not in on the plot. For instance, he refuses to evacuate the submarine off the Labrador coast, even though that would be a safer option for him, because the waters there are so cold that it is less likely that the men would be rescued alive. However he ends up killing the entire crew of Tupolev's submarine, most of whom were merely mooks doing their duty and were just as innocent and undeserving of death as his own crewmen were.
    • Of course, they did fire torpedoes at them.
    • Alternatively it may be more about a captain's responsibility to his crew. It's not Ramius' job to protect the other crew; it's Tupolev's. Tradition and loyalty would never allow Ramius to betray his own crew.
    • Ramius had no hand in destroying Tupolev's ship. Mancuso had been at the conn prior to the final torpedo being fired, and was the one to execute the Wronski Feint that caused the russian torpedo to impact the ship that fired it. Notably, Ramius stands by and lets Mancuso remain in command after returning to the conn.
    • Ramius never counted on Tupolev showing up right then. At that point, somebody was going to die. No way around it.
  • Oh yes, and he really might have started a nuclear war. It is stressed more in the book than in the film just how likely it was that one of the numerous tense confrontations between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces that resulted from the pursuit of Red October would spiral out of control.
    • True, but Ramius' own reasoning for defecting with the Red October was that the existence of such technology was massively destabilizing in itself if kept only in one side's hands, as it would grant first-strike capability (or, more importantly, make one side believe they have it whether or not they actually do). If he was also aware of the very paranoid Soviet leadership between Brezhnev and Gorbachev in the early 80's, that would have given Ramius even more reason to believe someone would pull the metaphorical trigger with the Red October or a sister ship somewhere down the line. It's not a stretch for him to conclude that it'd be better to risk a gamble now than allow the precipice to draw closer via bureaucracy.
  • Rationally, the Americans ought to have hunted down and destroyed Red October even if they did have a hunch that Ramius was trying to defect. Even the slightest chance that he might be planning an independent launch of his missiles - which would have killed millions - should have been too grave a risk to run.
    • Debatable since in the books they point out, if he was crazy, he could have fired his ICBMs from the Polijarny dock. Likewise, the Soviets had even stricter controls on unprovoked attacks than NATO.
    • There's also the technology of the sub itself to consider. If the Soviets made one of these, they could make more. If the US has the Red October, they can reverse-engineer their own versions and/or develop countermeasures, and the balance of power is maintained. While one madman in control of a nuclear submarine is certainly cause for concern, it's much less of one than the entire Soviet Navy having first-strike capability the US cannot counter.
    • The funny thing is, the film demonstrates that the Caterpillar Drive might not have been as much of a Game-Breaker as the Soviets had hoped for anyways. One particularly talented and driven American sonar operator was able to figure it out in a few hours and start tracking the new sonar signature, admittedly thanks to some unlikely circumstances and luck (specifically, that Ramius's crew started singing in celebration at the opportunity to test their new silent drive, allowing Jonesy to connect the sounds of the conventional drive, the singing, and the strange new sound of the Caterpillar). Imagine if the Soviet leadership had acted on the assumption their subs couldn't be tracked and ordered a strike, only for an American attack submarine tracking them to hear the missile hatches open. Suddenly, Mutually Assured Destruction is right out the window as a deterrence. The book calls this out directly, and makes it clear that Tupolev had already figured out the flaw in the Red October propulsion system.
  • Spare a moment for the DSRV crew. Two men in a relatively small submersible that is maneuverable but very slow and with all the defensive ability of a piñata. It's also sonar-reflective as it works in a rescue setting and being detectable is important. Now cut loose from a sub to fend for itself while two subs engage in a torpedo fight and the third pulls off some insane maneuvering, driving around in a vehicle that just screams "I'm a target!" to sonar systems. We don't even hear mention that anything happened to them, so they probably survived, but still… not a fun way to spend an afternoon. The book goes into much more detail about where Mystic was at any given point in time, and more importantly, how it arrived on scene in such a timely manner.
  • There's no reason to assume that Captain Tupolev was told the truth about Ramius intending to defect. He most likely went to his grave believing his crew was the only thing standing between Ramius and millions of American deaths. This would also go far to explain his extremely agitated state throughout the film and demand that they push the reactor past the red line in order to catch up with him.
    • That said, the interference of USS Dallas might have given him a strong suggestion of what was really going on. It's also possible that he thought Dallas was also trying to sink Red October and had showed up with spectacularly poor timing, leading everything into chaos.
  • In the book, the Soviets actually lose three submarines. That is, two Alfas (and their crews) and Red October. Such a tremendous loss would surely warrant deep soul-searching for the Red Navy.