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Society

Vintage Location: Filmmakers Flock To France’s Bordeaux

A top tourist destination for the wine and rolling landscapes of the surrounding countryside, Bordeaux also attracts its fair share of international film and television producers, who are drawn by the French city’s special mix of modern and medieval. Amon

Streets of Bordeaux, France (mescon)
Streets of Bordeaux, France (mescon)
Frank Niedercorn

BORDEAUX — Horse-drawn carriages and stagecoaches, about 200 extras wearing 19th century costumes and an army of 65 technicians mill about near Bordeaux's Grosse Cloche and Cailhau doors, relics of the city's fortified walls.

It's summer in southern France, and American movie producers are in Bordeaux to film a Paramount adaptation of the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" by the brothers Grimm. Most of the scenes were shot in Germany, but some scenes needed to be shot in a location that could better represent Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Bordeaux, it turns out, was the perfect choice.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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