In 2054, Paris is a labyrinth where all movement is monitored and recorded. Casting a shadow over everything is the city's largest company, Avalon, which insinuates itself into every aspect of contemporary life to sell its primary export -- youth and beauty. In this world of stark contrasts and rigid laws the populace is kept in line and accounted for.
Two men become entangled in a torrid love affair with the same woman. Pierre is Miriam's longtime lover. John is desperately searching for clues about his past when he and Miriam have a ... See full summary »
14-year-old György's life is torn apart in World War II Hungary as he is sent to a concentration camp where he is forced to become a man, and learns to find happiness in the midst of hatred, and what it really means to be Jewish.
Guy Crouchback,heir to a declining English Roman Catholic family returns to England from Italy at the start of World War Two and joins the Royal Corps of Halberdiers,along with various ... See full summary »
Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
An amnesiac soldier, seeking his lost love, arrives in Archangel in northern Russia to help the townsfolk in their fight against the Bolsheviks, all quite unaware that the Great War ended three months ago.
The Hotel Splendide is on a remote and cold island, accessible only by a once-a-month ferry. It's a dark and dreary spa created by the late Dame Blanche, whose grown children now run the ... See full summary »
Set in contemporary Moscow and the frozen northern town of Archangel, the drama revisits the stark landscape of Communist Russia and takes place over four days in the life of academic Fluke Kelso. His fateful meeting with a former Stalinist bodyguard leads to the uncovering of one of the world's most dangerous and best kept secrets. He is led unwittingly through murder and intrigue towards his own personal "Holy Grail" - Joseph Stalin's secret legacy - a legacy that could change the face of Russian history forever. Written by
Stalin had two sons, one of whom, Yakov, died in German captivity during the war, the other, Vasilii died of alcoholism in 1962. Yakov's son Evgenii has tried to carry the family torch, much as "Joseph" in the film, with little success. The conceit of the film might be based on the discovery in 2001 of another Stalin grandson, whose father was conceived during Stalin's exile in Siberia before the revolution. See more »
After Kelso and the reporter follow Josef into his cabin, Josef brings them a storage box containing some of his late father's effects. Kelso takes a medal from the box and states that it is the Hero of the Soviet Union Medal. However, it is clearly not the HSU Medal. The pendant (lower part) of the real HSU Medal is in the shape of a simple large star; the medal Kelso holds has a much more elaborate pendant. See more »
Surely the novel can't be as ridiculously simplistic as this?
Robert Harris writes surprisingly good popular upmarket airport bestsellers aimed at Sunday Times and Guardian readers that once upon a time would have been made into self-important overproduced movie potboilers but now (Enigma aside) get made in to misfiring TV series instead (Fatherland, Selling Hitler). Latest failure is Archangel, a historical/political conspiracy thriller set in modern-day Russia where the Maguffin is (initially at least) a hunt for Stalin's notebook before turning into something infinitely sillier. Unfortunately the end result is so flat in almost every single way that you're left with little to do but notice the many plot holes and increasing absurdities in the pared down script that hits plot points but never makes you buy into the story or the clichéd characters in any way and seemingly goes out of its way to avoid dealing with any interesting issue that might threaten to crop up en route.
The trick to plots this absurd on the printed page is to surround them with big themes (the ongoing malign influence of Stalin and Russia's communist past, the commercial and political exploitation of history) and a lot of recycled historical research and local color to make people think you know what you're talking about. The trick to this kind of nonsense on screen, however, is to keep it moving and put enough of a spin on the stock situations so that the audience doesn't stop to think, but screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Fresnais come up empty every time: when you see Beria having a soldier bury secret documents IN HIS OWN BACK GARDEN in a hole no more than 18 inches deep, you know that no-one's even making an effort here.
Professionally made and watchable if you've nothing better to do, but it has that tired and uninspired factory feel to it. And who on Earth thought that Daniel Craig was perfect casting for a middle-aged American history professor? He's a fine actor, but he can't bring anything to the table against those kind of odds not even an American accent. But even he isn't faced with the kind of ridiculous casting that Konstantin Lavronenko fails to conquer as a character who is supposed to be at least 50 years old but looks no older than 30 (although he's actually 45), rendering the final twist even more unbelievable on the screen than it is on the page.
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