When one is nervous or trying to cover up something, his eyes might become shifty. You know, time is pressing. Environment is hostile. So, he naturally chooses the most efficient way to get the visual information of vital importance, because it is easier to master your eyes’ muscles than to move your head. In a word, this ability is useful for criminals, businessmen and politicians, who often face stressful situations. The author would like to present you several instances of such behavior in Soviet movies and the post-Soviet politics.
In the first Soviet full-length talking movie – a legendary drama Road to Life («Путёвка в жизнь», directed by Nikolai Ekk, produced by Mezhrabpom Films, 1931) – one of its main characters, an old offender Zhigan, demonstrates his shifty eyes as he watches his accomplices and their potential victims. Another cinematographic masterpiece – a family comedy Kidnapping, Caucasian Style («Кавказская пленница, или Новые приключения Шурика», directed by Leonid Gaidai, produced by Mosfilm Studios, 1967) – contains a scene, where one of the kidnappers with a nickname «Experienced», shifts his eyes nervously before a policeman.
Well, these have been fictional characters. But, what about shifty eyes in real life? One of the notorious performers of this reflex is a politician N. Nazarbayev. During the opening ceremony of the Almaty Metro on December 1, 2011, he once again publicly displayed this rather questionable habit.