7.1/10
216
14 user 3 critic

Testimony (1987)

The story of the great Soviet Composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) and his life and career during the rule of Stalin.

Director:

Tony Palmer
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Betrayal (1983)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Pinter's semi-autobiographical play examining the surprise attraction, shy first steps, gradual flowering, and treasonous deception of a woman's extramarital affair with her husband's best ... See full summary »

Director: David Hugh Jones
Stars: Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley, Patricia Hodge
The Children (1990)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Rose Sellars (Kim Novak) is a middle-aged woman who falls in love with a widower (Sir Ben Kingsley). However, his children believe that their father is too old to start a new relationship.

Director: Tony Palmer
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Kim Novak, Siri Neal
Harem (1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A young American woman is kidnapped by an Arabian sheik and held captive in his harem. At first she frantically tries to escape, but as they slowly get to know and appreciate each other the... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Joffé
Stars: Nastassja Kinski, Ben Kingsley, Dennis Goldson
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A biographical portrayal of Simon Wiesenthal, famous Nazi Hunter. From his imprisonment in a Nazi Concentration Camp, the film follows his liberation and his rise to become one of the ... See full summary »

Director: Brian Gibson
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Renée Soutendijk, Craig T. Nelson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

1908: Pascali, a spy for the Sultan, sends reports to Istanbul that nobody reads. His suspicions are roused when a British archeologist appears, who may not be quite what he seems.

Director: James Dearden
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Charles Dance, Kevork Malikyan
Turtle Diary (1985)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Two separate people, a man and a woman, find something very stirring about the sea turtles in their tank at the London Zoo. They meet and form an odd, but sympathetic camaraderie as they ... See full summary »

Director: John Irvin
Stars: Glenda Jackson, Ben Kingsley, Richard Johnson
Romeo.Juliet (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The tale centers on an eccentric bag lady who rescues the stray cats of Venice and puts them on a boat to set sail for the New World.

Director: Armondo Linus Acosta
Stars: John Hurt, Robert Powell, Francesca Annis
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An American naval officer is recruited for an operation to eliminate his lookalike, the infamous terrorist Carlos The Jackal.

Director: Christian Duguay
Stars: Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland, Ben Kingsley
Silas Marner (TV Movie 1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

When a respectable weaver is wrongfully accused of theft, he becomes a virtual hermit until his own fortune is stolen and an orphaned child is found on his doorstep.

Director: Giles Foster
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Jenny Agutter, Patrick Ryecart
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A Brazilian snake hunter, trying to make enough money to marry the woman he loves, finds four mysterious chimpanzees. He embarks upon a journey to sell them in the big city, and learns a ... See full summary »

Director: Éric Rochat
Stars: Antonio Ameijeiras, André Barros, Catalina Bonakie
The War That Never Ends (TV Movie 1991)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The Peloponnesian Wars (Athens versus Sparta for twenty-seven years) told in the format of news broadcast-like monologues by Theucydides, Plato, and others.

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: John Bennett, David Calder, Oliver Ford Davies
Kean (TV Movie 1983)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Stars: Ben Kingsley
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Kingsley ... Dmitri Shostakovich
Sherry Baines ... Nina Shostakovich
Magdalen Asquith Magdalen Asquith ... Galya Shostakovich
Mark Asquith Mark Asquith ... Maxim Shostakovich
Terence Rigby ... Joseph Stalin
Ronald Pickup ... Marshall Tukhachevsky
John Shrapnel ... Andre Zhdanov
Robert Reynolds Robert Reynolds ... Brutus
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Gargolovsky
Colin Hurst Colin Hurst ... Stalin's Secretary
Joyce Grundy Joyce Grundy ... Stalin's Mother
Mark Thrippleton Mark Thrippleton ... Young Stalin
Liza Goddard Liza Goddard ... The English Humanist
Peter Woodthorpe ... Alexander Glazunov
Robert Stephens ... Vsevolod Meyerhold
Edit

Storyline

The story of the great Soviet Composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) and his life and career during the rule of Stalin.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Language:

English

Release Date:

November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Testemunho See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Last theatrical movie of William Squire (Khatchaturyan). See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Technically brilliant, narratively a struggle
1 August 2006 | by ursulahxSee all my reviews

Tony Palmer's tour de force biopic of the great twentieth-century Russian composer is, cinematically, a work of genius. Aided by Nic Knowland's stunning cinematography and the director's own well-observed production design, the film is visually compelling and a fine manifestation of cinema as art.

Palmer edited the film himself, and it shows. On the one hand, he has an imaginative grasp of montage - there are thrilling sequences of images denoting the 1917 Revolution and the hagiography of Stalin. On the other hand, it isn't always clear from the sequences of images what point he is trying to put across; the Babi Yar sequence is confused in its apparent attempt to equate Stalinism with Nazism.

One thing is clear, however. Without a good knowledge of Shostakovich's life and his music, a viewer cannot get the most out of this film. Even if like me you have read the composer's disputed memoirs several times, you often find yourself asking: "What year are we in now? Who is that character? Which part of his life are we dealing with?" Narrative clarity is not Palmer's priority, and perhaps it shouldn't be; but newcomers to Shostakovich would not be advised to start here.

Kingsley's performance as Shostakovich is impeccable. Although he doesn't resemble the composer precisely, his bearing and delivery convey the composer's inner torment and private battles with perfection. Veering between nervousness and furious sarcasm, he brings across all Shostakovich's difficulty of reconciling his private vision with his public role. Mention should also be made of Terence Rigby as Stalin - wordless for at least half the film, he carries a malevolent presence which suggests the sheer imposing terror of the man himself.

In other respects, the film is flawed - the appearance of household names in small roles is distracting (Frank Carson as a Russian clown, for heaven's sake!) and Russian names are frequently mispronounced and mistranscribed. Including footage of present-day musicians performing Shostakovich's music is not as incongruous as it sounds; but it is a pity that the works are sung in English, robbing them of the natural poetry of the Russian to which they were set.

That 'Testimony' is a labour of love is unmistakable; that it is, technically, one of the most compelling pieces of British cinema is indisputable. But it is too long, the parallels between Shostakovich and Stalin are perhaps foregrounded too much, and there is a danger that this enigmatic composer will seem even less accessible after watching. That does the composer a disservice; but, on the other hand, let's be grateful that this film was made at all.


16 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed