Throughout the film the wire recording is always called a tape recording even when the wire, wire recording spool and wire recorder are plainly shown. The wire recorder is actually shown in close-up while operating and still called a tape recorder. See more »
In Dante's Hell, the first circle was where the enlightened pagans were located; it may have been hell--but the least painful, high class section of hell. So also is the name of the Soviet prison where the scientists work in this grim drama, and, as it unfolds, one can interpret that the first circle includes not just the prison, but the whole uppercrust society of the Soviet Union, with Stalin as Satan overlooking his domain.
An international production made shortly after the demise of the Soviet government, this sombre drama was produced on location. Like the novel it's based on, it has too many characters and it's probably too expansive a story even for a mini-series; although it takes place in just three days, it contains about two dozen characters that one must keep track of. Nonetheless, a patient viewer will be rewarded for it portrays the fear, oppression, and sometimes outright stupidity of the postwar U.S.S.R. Although F. Murray Abraham gets top billing, he's in it for only about six minutes, yet he's unforgettable as Stalin, playing the dictator not as the virile power that Robert Duvall suggested, but more as a wizened and petty thug, a paranoid tyrant in winter. Some might think Christopher Plummer overacts his role, but the real Abakunov was one who discovered that passion helped win promotions more than intellect did, and, as a result, he over-emphasized his zeal and deemphasized his thought (The mini-series doesn't portray this, but the real Abakunov would be executed one year after Stalin's death). The rest of the cast is wonderful, even if some are obviously foreign-language actors who are dubbed.
See it and rejoice in your freedom.
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