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Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle

Posted January 07, 2011 to photo album "Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle"

Esca, the Celtic Slave, and Aquila, the Roman master, may appear an unlikely team in The Eagle, but the plot of enemies turned friends is a classic cinematic trope.

Slide 1: Roman/Celt
Slide 2: Apolitical/Collaborator | Casablanca (1942)
Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)
Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)
Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)
Slide 6: Old/Young | True Grit (1969)
Slide 7: Cop/Crook | 48 Hours (1982)
Slide 8: Prisoner/Keeper | Midnight Run (1988)
Slide 9: Hippie/Straight Dude | Flashback (1990)
Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)
Slide 11: Old Man/Korean Kid | Gran Torino (2008)
Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)

Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)

It is difficult for enemies to overcome their grave differences in any scenario, but it is particularly hard when the antagonists are at war. However, this is exactly the scenario presented in Russian director Alexander Rogozhkin's World War II fable The Cuckoo. The two foes in question are Veiko (Ville Haapasalo), a soldier in the Finnish army (who were allies of the Nazis) who is punished for his pacifism by being dressed in a Nazi uniform and shackled to a boulder out in the wilds with only a rifle and a little food, and Ivan (Viktor Bychkov), an injured soldier from the Russian Army. Both men end up in the care of Anni (Anni-Kristiina Juuso), a lonely young Lapp woman whose husband has been away at war for the past four years, and only fail in killing each other because they are both so weak from their respective ailments. Incapable of understanding each other or Anni because of the language barrier, the opposing soldiers learn to coexist, though relations are complicated by Anni's seduction of first one and then the other. “The Cuckoo settles into the snappy rhythms of a promising sitcom pilot,” wrote Scott Tobias in his review for The Onion's A.V. Club, “at least until Rogozhkin decides to get serious and posit their miscommunication as a honking metaphor for war: These men are enemies, he implies, but at heart they're really the same.”