Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
History is filled with countless cases of horrible men who committed atrocities so terrible, the very mention of their name is a byword for savagery and cruelty. However, even with all these bloodthirsty despots, the name Joseph Stalin is one that is exceptional. Leading the vast Soviet Union from the mid-1920's to 1953, he built an empire whose laws were enforced by terror, slavery, suffering, and death on a scale so enormous, it might give Hitler a run for his money as to who was worse. A number of documentaries have been made about this man and his regime. One of these is a supreme BBC documentary called "Stalin" (1990). Made one year before the fall of the Soviet Union, the documentary features rare interviews with Stalin's associates, such as his daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, as well as the survivors of his infamous Gulags, many of whom telling their stories for the first time thanks to Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika. Narrated by Sir Ian Holm (Ash from "Alien") it is told in three parts, each one detailing a certain aspect of Stalin's career, as well as a very memorable opening.
From his rise in the Bolshevik party, to his senseless purges of the 30's, the documentary provides a comprehensive view of Stalin himself and the effects of actions. In particular, it is nothing short of powerful and gut wrenching when we hear the stories of those who suffered in Stalin's prisons, many of whom did not even recognize themselves in a mirror when they were released due to the unbelievable treatment they endured. Also included are interviews with historians, academics, and government officials of Britain who dealt with the Soviet Union during Stalin's reign. In short, "Stalin" is a documentary that needs to be seen by all future generations as both history and a warning. For in this day and age of mass surveillance and expanded government powers (All in the name of "national security") we may not be as far away from some kind of reincarnation of Stalin's Russia or Hitler's Germany as we like to think. With that said, the fact that I'm the first to offer a review for such an important project is a little bit disheartening. Never the less, I am happy to tell you that the full documentary is available on Youtube in all its glory. So without further adieu, I urge all to check out this important film, for in the words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
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