Director, actor, and political activist Rob Reiner has been banned from Russia and he has some very typical thoughts about it.
Rob Reiner has worked in pretty much every genre of cinema, but he is unquestionably most associated with comedy. It is thusly not too surprising that the director of When Harry Met Sally… and The Princess Bride’s response to discovering that he has been placed on a list of nearly one thousand Americans permanently banned from traveling in Russia is tinged with sarcasm. According to Deadline, Reiner’s quippy response to the ban was this:
No comment. Except to say that I’m heartbroken and will have to live with the disappointment.
A bit sarcastic, but feels in character. The Russian Foreign Ministry placed Rob Reiner on a list of 963 American citizens who can no longer freely travel in Russia; the bans are reportedly prompted by various sanctions placed on Russia after the country’s unilateral invasion of the nation of Ukraine in February. That conflict is still ongoing and has been widely condemned by the international community. Russia is being investigated for committing war crimes in their invasion of Ukraine, deliberately targeting civilians and civilian targets. A captured Russian soldier named Vadim Shishimarin was recently convicted of killing a civilian and sentenced to life in prison. This is the first trial of its kind in the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
While Rob Reiner has long been known for his vocal political views and lifelong activism, it seems highly doubtful he is either directly or indirectly responsible for the sanctions imposed on Russia for their attempted violent annexation of a sovereign nation. It seems more likely that the list announced by The Russian Foreign Ministry is a symbolic rebuke of the protests against Vladimir Putin’s increasingly aggressive military actions. It is notable that the list of banned individuals includes Rob Reiner’s celebrity peer Morgan Freeman, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, current US President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, and a number of individuals who are no longer alive and thus able to travel, like John McCain.
It is also notable that the list of people not welcome in Russia includes the director of A Few Good Men, Rob Reiner, but not former US President Donald Trump. The latter has been particularly vocal in his admiration for Vladimir Putin’s aggressive militaristic policies and has previously publically put his trust in the intelligence reports of Russia over his own government. The symbolism of banning famous liberal and progressive voices like Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman while allowing entry by much more influential individuals on a global level is not particularly subtle, but this is probably a case in which subtlety would not be of much worth.
It was recently announced that Rob Reiner was reuniting with Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer to make a sequel to their legendary film This is Spinal Tap. In addition to making it his directorial debut, Reiner also acted in the film as fictional documentarian Marty Di Bergi following the similarly fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap on an increasingly chaotic tour. The film helped popularize the “mockumentary” genre of film and is widely regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of all time. At present, it seems unlikely that This is Spinal Tap 2 will be shown in Russia.