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Headscratchers / The Hunt for Red October

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How did Ramius kill Putin?
We see him slam the Putin's head against the table and do something to him slightly off-screen that looks like it could be CPR chest compressions if he wasn't murdering him, then we get a shot of his wide-eyed, stricken (yet still alive) face, which makes it look like he can't breathe. So how did he die? This one has always had me slightly puzzled.
  • I always thought Ramius broke his neck.
    • It was a broken neck - this is made clear in the novel.
  • Specifically: he slams Putin against the edge of the table at the juncture of the spine and skull, and presses down on his chest, making a clean break of the spinal cord between the second and third vertebrae. This cuts the brain stem off from Putin's lungs, so his diaphragm stops working. Although his heart keeps beating for about two minutes, Putin suffocates to death.
Why burn the original orders?
Burnt paper stinks very much, and it's a stench that stays for hours. Surely someone would have been suspicious of Putin's death coinciding with a strong smell of just-burned paper.
  • Yes, but on the other hand the Captain has just killed the political officer. The political officer being the most feared man onboard, and other senior officers are going along with it, so maybe a life-extending move is not to speak up right now. It's like that bit in The Dark Knight where the would-be blackmailer explains his plans to Morgan Freeman and is told good luck in that plan. The plans are disposed with leaving no evidence, and anyone with suspicions will have figured out enough of what is going on to not to act on those suspicions withou substantial backup which cannot come while at sea.
  • Know what else stinks on a submarine? Everything. Fresh paint, semi-refrigerated food, diesel fuel, lube oil, cigarette smokenote  (and Putin was smoking immediately prior to his death), amine from the carbon dioxide scrubbers, and unwashed ass. Burnt paper's just a needle in a haystack.

So does Putin exist in the Ryanverse?
Does Vladimir Putin exist in the Ryanverse or did his expy get killed by Ramius?
  • Putin isn't that uncommon a name that only Vladimir Putin has that last name. The guy that died in the story is more than likely someone else entirely.
  • Also bear in mind that THFRO was written in 1983-84, at which time Putin was a minor official in the KGB - Clancy probably didn't even know who he was. However, the answer to the main question is actually No - In the Ryanverse, Boris Yeltsin was succeeded by President Grushavoy.
Why didn't Loginov (the mole)go straight for the torpedoes without drawing attention to himself?
Just as the Americans are accepting the officer's request for asylum, the mole opens fire, sending one of them into retirony before retreating into the missile launch area in an attempt to detonate a missile and destroy the sub. If the mole had not revealed himself by shooting, he would have been able to sneak into the missile room and destroy the sub at leisure, effectively killing everybody on board.
  • The book is more sensible about this; the mole does indeed go straight for the missile room, and only opens fire when someone else walking through the missile room on an errand happens across him while he's busy with his sabotage. Sadly, shooting the man to prevent him from calling for help fails, as Jack Ryan is alert enough to hear the sound of the gunshot.
    • The book also points out better that, while Loginov is a GRU professional, he's also very young and in it for patriotic reasons, implying that a loss of control upon hearing the officers request asylum isn't totally out of the question.
  • In the movie, a warning light alerts the men in the control room when Loginov opens the missile tube hatch. Perhaps he felt it was better to at least use the element of surprise to cause confusion (and possibly take out one of his adversaries first, as he managed to do) rather than risk being taken by surprise himself when someone came forward to investigate why the hatch was open.

What language were the crew of the Red October singing in?
In the film, after Translation Convention kicks in, during any scene in the film in which Russian is spoken amongst only Russian characters, Russian is heard by the audience as English. But when the crew begins singing, the audience still hears that as Russian. So what language are they singing in that, even though we hear Russian as English, we hear the singing as Russian?
  • The sailors are singing the Hymn of the Soviet Union, a very distinctive song for which I'm not aware there is an English version. In dialogue, the translation convention renders characters' words as English, but that would be very difficult to do with the Soviet national anthem and would lesson the impact of the scene.

Why keep both keys?
After killing Putin, Ramius keeps both missile keys, with Tim Curry and the GRU mole as witnesses. This would seem awfully suspicious, especially as he overrules Tim Curry's protests. As he specifically does not want to use the nuclear missiles, he does not have a reason to keep both keys. If someone else wanted to use his key, they would have to take it from him, and if they could do that, they could get the second key too. He could have easily given it to Borodin or Melekhin or any of the other officers. He could have even taken Tim Curry's suggestion, and handed it over, as he never needs to use the key, so it doesn't matter who has the second one, as long as he had one of them.
  • It is specifically mentioned in-dialogue (in the book version, at least) that Soviet naval regulations are that if the political officer dies while under way, the captain keeps both keys. Ramius is only doing what The Book requires him to do in such a situation; why should anyone find this suspicious? It's only in the film that Dr. Petrov's objects. Either this is meant to only prove that Dr. Petrov doesn't know what he's talking about... which is not surprising, as he's a) a doctor, not a line officer and b) a politically-connected incompetent. Or the film just just takes artistic license with the military as it also implies that only two keys are required instead of five in the novel.
    Ramius: Borodin, observe: I take the comrade political officer's missile control key from his neck, as per regulations.
    Borodin: I note this, and will so enter it in the log.
  • Also, Borodin already has a missile control key — his own, as he's one of the five separate officers it takes to approve a missile launch on a Soviet submarine in that era. So either way, someone would have to carry two keys if one of the five officers dies; the logical candidate to do that is, of course, the most senior officer.
  • And in any case, most multi-key safety systems are designed so that one person cannot reach all of the keys at once to turn them, so one person having multiple keys would not represent a breakdown of the system. The keyholes would be on opposite sides of a room and require all keys to be turned at the exact same time

How does the ruse convince the Soviets?
The Soviet ambassador states in his final scene that the Konovalov is missing, and that its final location was exactly where the Red October purportedly sank. Even with the rescued crew misreporting the identity of the torpedoed vessel, the Soviets are still looking for a submarine, and it's shown earlier that they have sufficient ships and sonar buoys in place to intercept one heading for the United States. It's not clear what convinces the Soviets which of their two missing submarines was sunk, or how the Red October gets to Maine unmolested.
  • Plausible deniability. They'll suspect what happened, but they'll never be able to prove it. Not to mention that they'll be looking for an explanation that saves diplomatic face after what was a diplomatic and military disaster. There is nothing to be gained in pursuing the issue after that, so lots of gritted teeth and a general moving onto the next project. That is what the cold war was all about really, win some-lose some.

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