Eastern Promises
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Eastern Promises can be found here.

When 14-year old Tatiana (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse), a Russian immigrant, dies after giving birth in a London hospital, midwife Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) attempts to make contact with her family in the Ukraine in order to find a home for the baby. The search leads her into a world of prostitution, rape, heroin, and the vory v zakone (Russian mafia).

Eastern Promises was filmed from an original screenplay by British screenwriter Steven Knight.

Those are Nikolai's (Viggo Mortensen) worry beads. Nikolai's set comes from a real Russian prisoner, who gave them to Mortenson to use during filming. They were made from melted down BIC cigarette lighters.

Three Cupolas (Towers) on back: Three terms in prison;

Virgin Mary with Child on abdomen: I am true to my friends / My conscience is clear (could also mean "prison is my home");

Raven on shoulder: Death, I am not yours;

Starburst on finger: I became a criminal because of poverty and a broken home;

Cross on finger: I was in the Crosses (a prison in St. Petersburg);

Black-and-white diamond on finger: I deny official authority / I disobeyed rules while in prison;

Grim Reaper on abdomen: Death is always waiting for me;

Sun and sea with Cyrillic"CEBEP" (north) on back of hand: I was in prison in the CEBEP, (pronounced 'sever')

Crucifix on chest: Professional Thief / I will not betray you;

Skull on shoulder: Stay away from me / Murderer;

Tattoos around ankles: "Where are you going?" and "What the fuck do you care?" written in Russian.

The stars on his knees: he has been made a lieutenant in the vory v zakone and he will never kneel (literally or figuratively) to any authority again, IE, kneeling on the stars is a grave insult to the new rank. The number of points on each star are also meant to indicate the number of years served in prison. He is also given 2 identical stars on both sides of his chest.

There are two theories: (1) It's a threat from Nikolai that if Anna's uncle doesn't back down, he'll kill him by slitting his throat, or (2) It might mean, in light of the uncle's verbal abuse and insult, that Nikolai was trying to shine the man on by saying "You're drunk!" or that he didn't really know what he was talking about.

What is borscht?

Borscht is a beet-based soup, generally thought of as a signiture dish of Russian cuisine, that is popular all over Eastern Europe.

How does the movie end?

Kirill (Vincent Cassel) steals baby Christine from the hospital nursery and attempts to throw her into the river, but Nikolai and Anna intercept him. Kirill admits that he didn't know Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) was setting Nikolai up and agrees to an allegiance with Nikolai. Nikolai informs him that Semyon will be going away and that he (Kirill) is now the head of the clan. They agree to work together as partners, and Kirill leaves to attend a New Year's party. Anna asks Nikolai why he helped, and he explains that he couldn't unseat the king when the king was still in place. In the final scenes, Helen (Sinéad Cusack) lifts a six-month old Christine from a playpen and takes her to her mama...Anna. Nikolai is shown sitting alone drinking vodka in a restaurant. A voiceover from Tatiana says, 'My name is Tatiana. My father died in the mines in my village, so he was already buried when he died. We were all buried there, buried under the soil of Russia. That is why I left...to find a better life.'

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