American journalist John Reed journeys to Russia to document the Bolshevik Revolution and returns a revolutionary. His fervor for left-wing politics leads him to Louise Bryant, then married, who will become a feminist icon and activist. Politics at home become more complicated as the rift grows between reality and Reed's ideals. Bryant takes up with a cynical playwright, and Reed returns to Russia, where his health declines. Written by
The film takes place from November 1915 to October 17, 1920. See more »
The pet dog is a Golden Retriever but the first Golden (Champion Speedwell Pluto) wasn't imported into the US from England until 1930 See more »
Was that in 1913 or 17? I can't remember now. Uh, I'm, uh, beginning to forget all the people that I used to know, see?
Do I remember Louise Bryant? Why, of course, I couldn't forget her if I tried.
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As the credits roll, additional interviews with the 'witnesses' play. See more »
I am old enough to have lived through (probably) three different Americas. These are radically different worlds. It isn't just the mood, styles or state of the economy; its the adoption of a whole cosmology. Religions change under our feet. Family, love, belonging. These things are malleable yet largely beyond our control and we forget what "things were like." Memory always is constructed in terms of the present world.
So projects like this are necessary. We cannot know who we are unless we remind ourselves who we were.
The ordinary fold here is a romance, folded into grand political actions. Here they are a bit more cerebral than usual, but never getting past the notion of simple justice.
The more unusual and complex fold is that we see a story based on real events and people. Interspersed with that story are interviews of people who were personally involved in the story. These are remarkable, the way they are captured and the way they are edited to overlap with and annotate the story. But much more engaging is that these are enticing people, many with minds and phases that invite us into their faces made warmer and more open by Beatty's camera. I compare this to the "Up" serious and the contrast is astonishing. True, here we want to be informed about the lives of others, and the "Up" goals pretend that the people randomly selected decades ago are remotely worth knowing.
But these folks are. We want more, simply based on their implicit invitation, and we carry ourselves into the narrative more forcefully, sort of like the characters do. This is folding doing its job and doing it well. They remember. I remember, and therefore am.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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