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Russian Roulette the game and Deer Hunter
Russian roulette a game of suicidal proportions
Russian roulette has always remained a strange, potent yet morbidly curious game of probability. Considered a game of chance or even assisted suicide - the game refers to a loaded revolver (6 shots normally) being spun around. Whoever the barrel points too must proceed to fire the gun at their own head.
The name “Russian roulette” takes its meaning from the suggested birthplace of this notorious game. It’ curious that such a dangerous game may have emanated from the land of the Cossacks. However there is as no definitive concrete proof. Only the merest mention exists within Russian Literature as a point of reference. The weak literary reference is from Mikhail Lermontov in his 1840 "The Hero of Our Time". The mention was not a direct note. His description of the game offered only a fleeting reference.
The roulette part of this games name refers to the revolver’s cylinder looking similar to a roulette wheel. However it’s also safe to say the element of betting as well as statistical odds in playing Russian roulette add further credence to the gambling connection.
The chances of the gun firing are based on how many previous shots have been fired. Also of course how many bullets have been placed in the revolvers cylinder before the Russian roulette game has begun. It’s impossible to play the game with an automatic pistol even if one bullet get loaded as automatics fire bullets automatically. If this version exists then surely it must set an example for natural devolution.
Russian Roulette revolver and a game of chance
The statistics of Russian roulette
Statistics of Russian roulette get based on a 1/6th chance of being killed so it equates to a 17% risk to your life ending in the next spin. The percentage increases at the next spin until only one player remains.
Russian roulettes gaming origins remains purely based on myth. Because no reference exists within Russian culture it’s possible to say this games name does not indicate, nor provide a direct reference to the game being played in Russia. Instead the games name remains as a statement of how Russia exists as a mysterious eventful country, as well as often being perceived as a violent place to many non-Russians.
Film however does offer an insight into both the intensity and the madness of this game of chance. The most immediate example is the Michael Cimino film "The Deer Hunter" - there are two very strong scenes between Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken where Russian roulette is played. A point of consideration here is that the films main protagonists are from Pennsylvania, but this state has only a 1.6% Russian Population.
Unfortunately people tend to blame television, films, and video games for defects within society. It’s a shame that the Deerhunter film may have led to suicides among the younger generation. Although how directly the film remains responsible for promoting positive imagery of suicide appears unclear as well as undefined. However Russian roulette’s main victims appear to be white averaging 25 years of age. Medical records show prior to playing the game victims have usually consumed alcohol.
Deerhunter - Christopher Walken as Mikey playing Russian roulette
The Deerhunter and Russian roulette
Its far to say that inspiration from the Deerhunter film may or mat act as an instigator in suicide through Russian roulette. However precise figures may of course never reveal a true figure. Only recently in an English BBC television show called “Who do you think you are?” actor Alan Cummings discovered his grandfather has been killed wile playing the game in Malaya. The family remained convinced their grandfather was killed due to an accidental firearm discharge. This tragic story highlights the ambiguity surrounding death through Russian roulette.
This game has no proof of being Russia while its true origins seem hard to locate. It’s possible that the game derives from a game played in Russia called “cuckoo” were an officer stands on a table in a darkened room and other soldiers hide and shout out “cuckoo” in the darkness the officer then shoots at the sound, presumably trying to shot the soldier who shouted “cuckoo”. However lack of direct information also points this Russian tradition into the realms of mythology.
Although initially played between numbers of two or more, some people have played Russian roulette alone. Perhaps the most infamous player is John Hinckley Jnr. the man responsible for trying to assassinate Ronald Regan in 1981. Furthermore William Shockley (co-creator of the transistor as well as the Nobel Prize winner for Physics) tried to commit suicide using Russian roulette.
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