When Jesus was crucified, so the story goes, Pontius Pilate affixed a sign to the cross which read “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS” . On most crucifixes, this mocking title is represented by initials on a sign over Jesus’s head. On Catholic crucifixes, the sign says INRI, short for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum; on most Orthodox crucifixes, the sign says ΙΝΒΙ, short for the Greek Iesous ho Nazoraios ho Basileus ton Ioudaion (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).

Georgians, on the other hand, use their own language: ႨႬႫჀ (INMH), for Iesu Nazareveli Meupey Huriatay (იესუ ნაზარეველი მეუფჱ ჰურიათაჲ).

georgian crucifix

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Xenia Onatopp: Not Georgian

In the 1995 movie Goldeneye, the following exchange takes place between James Bond and the villainess Xenia Onatopp:

XO: Thank you, mister…

JB: Bond. James Bond.

XO: Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp.

JB: Onatopp?

XO: Onatopp.

JB: Your accent…Georgian?

XO: Very good, Mr. Bond. You’ve been to Russia?

JB: Not recently. I used to drop in occasionally. Shoot in and out.

In fact, Xenia’s accent is not Georgian, but Russian (see video below). As I’ve discussed before, Georgian accents are fairly plodding, whereas Russian accents tend to be smooth and liquid. Probably the screenwriters chose to add this detail in order to avoid the Russian villain cliche while still keeping the story within the post-Soviet world. It also has the added benefit of signaling to the audience that Bond is worldly (“Wow, he can pick out an obscure accent, that’s some real secret agent stuff!”).

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Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) was a Transcaucasian Soviet film director. He is best known for four weird art films: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), The Color of Pomegranates (1968), The Legend of the Surami Fortress (1984), and Ashik Kerib (1988). These movies are remarkable for their distinctive tableaux-style cinematography and their controversial use of ethnic and national symbols and imagery. For both of these, as well as for generally being an oddball and troublemaker, Parajanov was persecuted by Soviet officials and spent several years in prison.

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