THREAD on GRANITE, the newest "Wagner Group" movie about Russian PMCs in Mozambique in 2019.

These are moves MADE by the same networks that are sending Russian mercenaries abroad — they show how these networks are trying to frame themselves for Russian and foreign audiences
Granite takes the actual story of the Wagner Group’s failures in Mozambique and casts them as righteous and heroic, within a Russian humanitarian tradition, motivated by “Ideas” not money.
(Note that there are some reports that Wagner is still in Mozambique, fulfilling ISR roles rather than their original combat activities.)…
This movie was shot in the CAR despite taking place in Mozambique, and it features some of the same characters as the last "Wagner movie", Tourist. Like Tourist, a company partly owned by Prigozhin holds the distribution rights (Aurum LLC)
Granite tells the story of a team of Russian instructors providing support to the embattled government of Mozambique in their fight against insurgents in Cabo Delgado. It claims to be based on true events.
We know from reporting by @nicksturdee that at least part of this is probably true. Documents obtained by Sturdee show that Russian PMCs with the same callsigns as the characters in the movie were involved in a skirmish in Mozambique in 2019.…
One of those killed in the skirmish was the titular “Granite.” The locales where the film takes place — Merere, Mbau — are also consistent with Wagner Group internal reports from the Newlines story.
Spoiler: Granite dies in the movie too. Other individuals in this report like Pazik, are also in the movie. Aside from that, Granite is a work of fiction.

These movies interact with, reinterpret and even impact reality on the ground

The movie begins with a flashback to 1986, when a Soviet-crewed plane crash killed Samora Machel, then-president of Mozambique. The film frames its basic premise: Russia is fulfilling a historical tradition of saving freedom-loving people from Western aggression.
In the Wagner Extended Universe (Shugalei, Tourist, Solncepek etc), instability comes from Western support for extremists, and Russia defeats them.
The movie represents the Soviet version of events — South Africa conspired to cause the plane to crash by using a VOR signal to trick the pilot. This is actually pretty interesting as this is still a matter of contention.
I’m refusing to go off on that tangent, but Soviet/FRELIMO history is very interesting, and there is some background reading regarding the death of Machel here:………
Among the few survivors of the crash is a Mozambican man who carries with him an impression of the Soviets as “Gods” and saviors. He shares this with his grandson, who goes on to see his family killed and be captured by insurgents.
We flash forward to the present. Russian instructors from Sudan depart from Mozambique because their assistance is requested by the government, seemingly out of goodwill. The movie later clarifies that they are not there on contract.
A number of characters from “Tourist” return, including Kuban and “Sedmoy,” the Dmitry Utkin stand-in.
While the Russian intend to train the FADM to fight their insurgency, an American energy company — a poorly transliterated “Maraphon” — has other ideas. They hire a South African “Colonel Lionel” to coerce the Mozambican government into giving them better terms for a gas rights
This bald Prigozhin lookalike is a pretty clear reference to Lionel Dyck — who was born in Rhodesia, not South Africa, and who has run anti-poaching and private military activities in Mozambique through his company DAG. Beyond that, nothing in common in with the actual guy.
The writers may have selected “Colonel Lionel” as the villain of this movie due to the fact that DAG and South African security companies filled the gap left by Wagner after they failed…
This Lionel has to first make sure the Russians can’t shore up the FADM (Mozambican armed forces) against the insurgents to make sure his clients get their way. They also paint him as being involved in the assassination of Machel — quite weird.
Lionel’s Mozambican contact says that the Russians don’t know the language or the terrain, that they are unprepared — he’s echoing statement made by South African PMCs and other analysts after the Wagner Group’s failure…
Lionel responds by pointing out that the street next to them in Maputo is named after Lenin. Checkmate, I guess.
Incidentally, in that scene, Lionel is in Maputo — but it was shot in Bangui. He is with his Mozambican contact eating at “Pastelaria”, which is actually “Phenicia.” (Near 4.362419, 18.581773)
Lionel is revealed to be supporting the bloodthirsty insurgents, even appointing a guy dressed like Che named Omar as their new leader. He is accompanied by a band of what appears to (Chadian?) foreign fighters.
Omar arrives with his men in a helicopter that looks very much like one that appeared in the CAR Republic Day parade on December 1st — a parade where many FACA soldiers wore Wagner patches.

(h/t @AbraxasSpa for flagging the weird livery)
The previous film, Tourist, also featured a nefarious foreigner bringing in Chadian fighters to support a brutal but incompetent warlord against the Russians. Same formula.
Through a parade of violent events, the grandson of the survivor of the 1986 crash (Remember him?) is recruited as a child soldier, escapes, meets the Russians, is kidnapped again, and is later freed by the Russians, who go out of their way to rescue him.
Yes, this movie is little convoluted. It is certainly better shot than Tourist, and actually has African characters, but it also features a slew of racist tropes – though frankly not necessarily worse than those in American depictions of African countries.
Throughout, the FADM troops are shown to be cowardly and incompetent. TWICE the main character has to give them a pep talk to get them to go into battle. Corrupt police and officers obstruct the heroic Russians throughout.
The Russians point out that the FADM have no national pride, but Granite says he can “teach them”
In the end, the Russians rescue the young boy, but are ambushed. In a fight scene set to an original song by Sergei Shnurov (of Leningrad fame) the Russian fight valiantly, but Granite is mortally wounded.
However! The movie tells us the Russians were ultimately victorious, because their FADM partners later fought bravely against Ansar al-Sunna in Palma, even if they were ultimately defeated.
We are to understand that the Russians won, even in defeat, because they passed on values of bravery and national pride to the FADM.
There is a lot more to be picked apart from this movie, especially its place amongst the other movies produced/distributed by Paritet/Aurum. But I’ll leave it here for now.
This is unquestionably piece of propaganda, but it plays into a mold of Soviet and Russian film that finds victory in death and even defeat — think 9th Company, or older movies like The Cranes are Flying, They Fought for Their Homeland.
For more on this, check out Greg Carleton’s excellent work on Russian “annihilation narratives.”……
Thanks for bearing with me through this long thread! Can't end without pointing out that Granite appears to have stolen promotional material from Far Cry 2

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