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This movie was great, and I hope it comes out on DVD real soon. Beatty
became Reed in more than one sense--not only did he act the part, but he
directed the movie in a way reminiscent of the kind of "new journalistic"
style that Reed and his fellow MASSES writers pioneered, mixing the drama
with interviews of people who knew JR, Louise, etc.
The film also sort of puts forward the question, "What if, instead of running back to Russia (to die of kidney failure and mistreatment by the CP), Jack Reed had stayed in this country to build the CP? Would it have turned out to become Stalinist?" According to Howe and Coser, who wrote a good book on THE AMERICAN COMMUNIST PARTY, much like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Germany, Reed was the ONLY leader who was independent, who had some real backbone.
The best part of the movie is when Emma Goldmann, played by Maureen Stapleton, tells Jack that "it doesn't work" (i.e. statist, bureaucratic socialism that the Bolsheviks were instituting as a grossly mistaken response to the economic crisis and Allied invasion of Russia after the Revolution). And then his rebellion against the lying propaganda of Zinoviev. Kind of hits me right now that Jerzy Kosinski should play Zinoviev--didn't he commit suicide when he was exposed as a plagiarist? Where is the line between art and reality, politics and life?
Of course I loved the romantic reality between Beatty, Bryant, and Nicholson (Reed, Bryant, and Eugene O'Neill). And the cynicism that Reed expresses about the Democrats and Wilson is certainly apropos today.
Reds, a succinct, controversial title totally typical of a major directorial
outing by Warren Beatty. We always knew that Beatty was on the left, but a
film glamourising a known Communist who defected to the USSR and is buried
within the Kremlin. How the studios let him make it is a mystery to me, but
I suppose that the name Warren Beatty was enough.
The film is long, and not for the light-hearted. It covers the broad canvas of early 20th Century American socialism. Concentrating first on Reeds efforts to form an American Socialist party, before moving to Russia; Beatty plays Jack Reed, the playboy writer, journalist and socialist. He opposes the war after initially supporting Wilson at the Democratic convention. After the Russian Revolution he becomes enamoured with the newly founded Soviet Union, as does his wife and sparring partner Louise Bryant, marvellously played by Diane Keaton who is excellent as the proto-feminist Bryant. Self-assured and very sexy, and her tragic love triangle between her, Reed and Jack Nicholson's character is brilliant. A number of other actors also crop up, including Paul Sorvino and M. Emmet Walsh.
One of the most important films of its generation, and every movie fan should make this compulsory viewing. Any aspiring left-wing intellectual should also make this compulsory viewing - there were Communists and Socialists in America, and one of them is even buried in the Kremlin. The USSR may be reviled these days, but you cannot deny the hope and utopianism that swept the world in those first few years after the 1917 Revolution. Beatty brings all this marvellously to the screen in Reds.
"Reds" is a 200-minute epic masterpiece which deals with left-wing American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty in an Oscar-nominated performance) and his coverage of the Russian Revolution of the 1910s. Beatty's passion is what carries this ambitious film, which could have easily been a multi-million dollar disaster. His Oscar-winning direction, screenplay, and overall performance carry the film as far as it can possibly go. The top-flight performances by Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson (both Oscar-nominated), and Maureen Stapleton (Oscar-winning) all add great depth to the performance. Paul Sorvino, Edward Herrmann, and Gene Hackman also make lasting impressions in supporting roles. Overall a great achievement all the way around. 5 stars out of 5.
Warren Beatty's Reds follows only Gone With The Wind in my list of favourite
films. This movie is both a love story, and a documentary. It educates the
viewer not just on John Reed and his comrades, but on WWI era society in
This brilliant script, (which, like the writings of Jack Reed expresses his political feelings with the same poetic eloquence as his love poems to his wife Louise), is interspersed with commentary from Jack's contemporaries, who tell the history from their own unique perspectives. As the truth of what was going on in that community is such an illusive thing, the only way to tell this story accurately was to show the often completely opposite view points of what was going on as told by the people for whom this history is a first hand memory.
The acting in Reds is breath taking. Every member of this, extremely large, cast committed fully to their characters. One feels a true connection to even those characters who lurked in the background with only occasional lines. The most notable performances were by Beatty himself, (who's embodiment of Jack Reed was incredible), Diane Keaton, (who portrayed all the facets of Louise's personality with stunning realism), Jack Nickelson, (who delivers O'Neil's quick witted dialogue with an almost frightening cynicism), and Maureen Stapelton, (who conveyed an amazing strength as Emma Goldman). While these actors were the most prominently featured, all the actors delivered noteworthy performances as far as I'm concerned.
The political history covered in this movie is nothing if not vast. This is proof of Beatty's most impressive knowledge of history. This is a film I would recommend be shown in schools, as one the most in depth study of American communism on screen to date.
Reds is truly an inspiration, and should be seen by every actor, director, writer, liberal, film maker, history buff & movie lover! You will not be disappointed!
Warren Beatty's 'Reds' is a terrific film that is not only great story telling
in the conventional Hollywood way but also has an original style of narration
told in many ways from the point of view of witnesses to the real story who
during the days the film is centred around.
The film is especially significant to view since the iron curtain in Russia has come down and 'Reds' is a movie that never looks dated and stresses the fact that morals at the early part of the 20th century were about the same as they are now. It's just that no one discussed it back then and it emphasizes that times change but people don't.
With top notch performances from the entire cast, it is one of the few films to be nominated for an Oscar in all four acting categories and was victorious in the Best Supporting Actress category for Maureen Stapleton although the film's best performance comes from Diane Keaton who should have won her second Oscar.
To date, Beatty is the only film maker to be Oscar nominated for Best Director, Actor, Screenwriter and Producer twice for the same film. The other time was for 1978's 'Heaven Can Wait'.
Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin once wrote, "The capitalists will sell us
the rope with which we will hang them."
Lenin's quote came to mind when I was watching one of the most spellbinding movies to come along in years,and not since David Lean's brilliant 1965 epic classic "Doctor Zhivago" hasn't been a movie in recent memory that has come close. That motion picture is "Reds",released in 1981 by Paramount Pictures. The film was Warren Beatty's peeve project which he served not only as it star,but also the co-writer and direction. Director Warren Beatty's epic love story about American writers John Reed and Louise Bryant,set amid of the turbulence of American politics in the 1910's World War I and the Russian revolution that set this movie into plain focus. The movie itself is astounding to behold and is a tragic love story between the writers John Reed(Warren Beatty),and Louise Bryant(Diane Keaton). But it creatively used artsy,radical Greenwich Village in the 1910's-and such as real-life characters as playwright Eugene O'Neill(Jack Nicholson),and anarchist activist Emma Goldman(Maureen Stapleton)-as well as the drama of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent civil war as the principal landscapes in which their relationship plays out.
Director Beatty also made creative use of on-camera "testimony" by the likes of novelists Henry Miller and Rebecca West,Republican politician Hamilton Fish,comic George Jessel and civil libertarian Roger Baldwin. These senior citizens recall,with varying degrees of historical accuracy,Reed,Bryant and the times in which they lived. "Reds" shows convincingly that many of the contemporary issues in politics and culture have their antecendents in the first debates of the 20th century. Debates over birth control and abortion,marriage and commitment,public life versus private life,revolution versus reform are given full expression from varying viewpoints throughout the lengthy film(which runs over three hours). To Beatty's credit,his film captures the excitement the Bolshevik revolution stirred,both inside and outside Russia while revealing how the Bolshevik leadership quickly began to suppressing dissent within the revolutionary ranks on the way to becoming a dictatorship with a country that is in constant turmoil. Beatty's efforts certainly paid off artistically,bringing him prestige to him and Paramount making "Reds" a huge box office success for the studio when it premiered in theatres around Christmas of 1981.
"Reds" became one of the top highest grossing pictures of that year,and it paid off in high standards too. "Reds",which received 12 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture,lost an upset to Hugh Hudson's "Chariots Of Fire" in the Best Picture category. However it won three Oscars for Best Director(Warren Beatty),Best Supporting Actress(Maureen Stapleton),and Best Cimematopgraphy(Vittorio Storaro). Eventually,"Reds" made more than $40 million at the domestic box office,and once international figures were added in,it became one of the top grossing films of the 1980's. A feat Warren Beatty is still proud of to this day.
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.
Warren Beatty makes himself the only director to get Oscar nominations in
Best Producer (picture), director, actor and writer twice (Heaven Can Wait
is the other one), and he won his only Oscar (besides his honorary Thalberg
award in 2000) for direction here. And it is well deserved. Mainly because
this is the best film about communism and other political issues ever made.
Here, Beatty portrays journalist and idealist John Reed to maximum potential. He also comes of great with Diane Keaton as his love. Long, yet immensly entertaining and interesting, which was one of the few political films (besides maybe South Park) that got me thinking about communism. By the way, this film also won best conematography (Vittoro Storatto) and Best Supporting Actress (Maureen Stapleton as Emma Goldman), though I think it should've also won Oscars for Nicholson and Beatty. One of the better films (top 20) of the decade. A+
This is an interesting film, all the more so because it is meant to tell a
true story (insofar as any film of real events is true!)
I suppose you'll either like it or loathe it. If you like it, good; it isn't a bad film, but a bit of an idea of European history will help you.
If you you fall into the latter category loathe it because you think it's a bad film not because of the stupid bigotry shown in some of the other reviews here which seem to be so hung up on the USA and Mom and apple pie that they see "Commies" in even thinking about the event of the early 20th century!
After seeing it it made me interested enough to find out about John Reed. You might not like what he thought, you might not like Warren Beatty and what he thinks but for heaven's sake don't rubbish this film simply because it's about a political system you may not like, or have been indoctrinated not to like!
It's not brilliant but neither is it a "love poem to communism".
An engrossing film about John Reed's love affair with Louise Bryant and his struggles in the midst of the Russian Revolution. There are great performances from Beatty, Keaton, Nicholson (excellent as Eugene O'Neill) and Stapelton in her Oscar winning performance as Emma Goldman. Beatty's precision and timing in the use of his camera in this picture is a superb achievement. There is a touch of David Lean in director Beatty in this film. The color, the editing, the sound. All of those important filmic elements are at play here in great form. Beatty won the Best Director Oscar, but lost the Best Picture award to Chariots of Fire.
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