Read a teaching scene about courage.

An unidentified Soviet writer sends an unsolicited manuscript to British publisher Barley Blair containing startling evidence that the Russian defense system is inefficient and in shambles. British intelligence intercepts the book and with CIA cooperation convinces Blair to visit the U.S.S.R. to determine the identity of the author and to discern the value of what he has written. Is it true or is it just another piece of disinformation being fed to the West?

Blair, a witty, boozy intellectual, has a soft spot in his heart for the down-to-earth values of the Russian people. He immediately is attracted to Katya, a single parent who works for a Soviet publisher and is the writer's go-between. When Blair finally meets the scientist, he recognizes him as Dante, a high-ranking physicist he met at a writer's conference. He is impressed with his courage in putting the cause of world peace ahead of nationalism.

The Russia House is a stirring screen interpretation of John le Carré's 1989 novel. It boasts a sophisticated screenplay by Tom Stoppard and dazzling shots of Leningrad and Moscow by cinematographer Ian Baker. This classy film is perfectly cast even down to minor characters. Sean Connery gives one of the best performances of his long career as Blair, a man who is ambushed by love in the midst of his difficult mission for British and American spymasters. Michelle Pfeiffer is enchanting as Katya, the kind of woman who could inspire Blair's vow "You are my only country now." Klaus Maria Brandauer is appropriately idealistic as the Russian scientist, James Fox exudes earnestness as the British agent who runs Blair's operation from London, Ken Russell plays an eccentric English Sovietologist, and Roy Scheider is sinister as a CIA official.

Director Fred Schepisi brings to the screen John le Carré's melancholy awareness of the ambiguity of human deeds, the duplicity and absurdity of international espionage, and a merciless perception of post-Cold War politics. In the end, the love between Blair and Katya is the most dangerous element in the scenario since it transcends all ideologies and is totally unpredictable. Those who have read The Russia House will see that this dimension of the story works better on the screen than in the book.