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 »
All the old clichés are rolled out early in this adaptation of Robert Harris's spy novel 'Archangel': surly Russians, an arrogant English hero, a garrulous American. There's also a certain amount of expository dialogue: in an early scene, a leading academic makes a speech to a conference in which he makes the dramatic revelation that Stalin was evil. 'Archangel' is certainly no 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', and the thin characterisation makes the early stages tedious to watch. But in the middle, it improves greatly, as a conventional but tautly scripted thriller begins to take shape. Sadly, the ending can't quite deliver on this promise; both because of the risible suggestion that megalomania is an inherited quality, and also because it is surely not (as the film suggests) the worship of Stalin's image that is the real problem in today's Russia, but rather, the social circumstances which make such an absurdity possible. Still, it's always interesting to get a glimpse of the great Russian north on camera, and lead actress Yekaterina Rednikova looks very sexy smoking a cigarette. But overall, this is routine stuff.
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