During Stalin's reign of terror, Evgenia Ginzburg, a literature professor, was sent to 10 years hard labor in a gulag in Siberia. Having lost everything, and no longer wishing to live, she meets the camp doctor and begins to come back to life.

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Evgenia Ginzburg
...
Genia's mother
...
...
Krasny
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Pitkowskaya
...
Lena
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Dr. Anton Walter
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Pavel
Pearce Quigley ...
Yelvov
...
Guard
Lena Stolze ...
Greta
Jimmy Yuill ...
Siderov
...
(as Torsten Muenchow)
Heinz Lieven ...
Old Vlady
...
Confucius
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During Stalin's reign of terror, Evgenia Ginzburg, a literature professor, was sent to 10 years hard labor in a gulag in Siberia. Having lost everything, and no longer wishing to live, she meets the camp doctor and begins to come back to life.

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4 August 2010 (Belgium)  »

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Connections

Version of The Voyage Into the Whirlpool Has Begun (1974) See more »

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Letter to Stalin
Performed by Agata Buzek
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Did he say 10 years? I am to live?
25 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yevgenia Ginzburg was a literature Professor in the University of Kazan in the 1930's. In those days, Kazan, was a Russian province, under the control of Moscow, with Stalin at the peak of his power. Those days were among the darkest times in Russian history, days marked with persecution, treachery, executions, mass disappearances of anyone considered an enemy of the State or Stalin, whether real or invented. Those were the days when the infamous Russian Gulags were in full force, concentration camps set in the bitter Siberian landscape, marked with hardships, and the long, bitter, below 50+ Celsius winters. Those were the days when both men's and women's mettles were tested to the limit, where people showed either their better sides or their worst. The spirit and strength of survival was the constant companion of such then.

This movie is based on Ms. Ginzburg's memoirs, "Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives", where she was banished for 12 years for allegedly participating in the Trotskyist terrorist counter-revolutionary group, a group accused of conspiring against the Russian state by plotting the defeat of the then U.S.S.R. by capitalist countries, and murder their communist leaders. Stalin's purges targeted all these, among others. The labor, suffering, solidarity, survival, of Ginzburg and her fellow inmates are vividly depicted in this biographical epic.

You will see incomprehensible hatred among the prisoners of different backgrounds. You will see deep sacrifices people had to make to stay alive. You will see gang violence and rape, as women were forced to sell their bodies for a loaf of bread. You will see prisoners having to make good judgments as to whom to trust and whom not as a key to survival. You will see heroic actions taken by everyday people to protect each other from death from the elements or from being simply shot by the brutal guards. And you will see deep gratitude, simple happiness even if for just a moment, and motherly love.

The ensuing love between the camp's doctor and Ginzburg was, I believe, a just reward for the immense trials these two had endured over the years. The ending, which I will not spoil for you, will leave your mind turning for a while, and then, wonder in amazement.

Ms. Watson was at her best. All the parts were well done. Veteran actor Ian Hart as the infamous Beylin was excellent. That part when he yells at Ginzburg when she refused to sign her confession - even I was startled; it was well done. There was no attempt to dress up any parts or make them over emotional or sentimental. No, the story unfolds as it would in everyday life, in black and white, with no attempt to overdress anything. If any parts drive you to tears, it is from imagining how and what you would have done had you been there.

I lived in Russia for 3 years, working as a University Professor. Much of what I saw in the movie triggered old memories. I found myself saying over and over, "Just as I saw it!" The intrigues surrounding your job and status in Russia is still accurate to this day, although the danger of imprisonment no longer exists.

So, dear friends, if you wish to spend the better part of 2 hours watching a story which will keep you spellbound and mesmerized until the end, without a moment of boredom, this is the movie to watch, enjoy, and appreciate. A story of people having lost all will to live, and how with a little help and compassionate love, this will is renewed. This is the story of one woman whose strength and determination inspired others, as it still does today, as I hope will inspire you as well.


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