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Testimony (1987)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, History | November 1988 (USA)
The story of the great Soviet Composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) and his life and career during the rule of Stalin.


Tony Palmer

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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


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Testemunho See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In reality, the person who humiliated Dmitri Shostakovich at his U.S. press conference in 1949 was not a journalist, as in this film, but the Russian émigré composer Nicolas Nabokov. See more »


At 1:41:24, during the press conference in New York, the character seated beside Robert Urquhart has an unmistakably 1980s haircut, although the scene takes place in 1949. See more »


Marshall Tukhachevsky: Finland. We could need her for our forward bases, should anyone attack us.
Dmitri Shostakovich: Finland is our friend, we have a special relationship.
Marshall Tukhachevsky: And if she denies us bases, we'll attack her. That's what 'special relationship' means.
See more »

Crazy Credits

By the time of his death, August 9, 1975, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich, People's Artist of the Soviet Union, had completed 15 Symphonies, 15 String Quartets, 4 Operas and 45 Ballets and Film Scores; in all, at least 147 works. By the time of his death, March 5, 1953, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Marshal of the Soviet Union, had murdered, or caused to be put to death, in peacetime, in all, at least 30 million people. See more »

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User Reviews

taking a more experimental approach
7 January 2011 | by mjneu59See all my reviews

It doesn't need a lover of classical music to appreciate the dramatic conflicts in the life of Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), but the heavily camouflaged screen treatment presented here is more an artistic interpretation than a traditional biography. The film wants to expose the (often bitter) core of the composer's musical inspiration, by daring to be more expressionistic than any of his symphonies. It doesn't even make sense to evaluate Ben Kingsley's starring performance, because the entire design of the film is pitched so far beyond any standard of objective realism, with hypnotic, dreamlike imagery shifting from black and white to color and from dramatic facsimile to actual archival footage. The results are both powerful and pretentious, working best when the music itself is highlighted in historical context. Shostakovich was very much a witness as well as a victim of his era, and his music often reflected the violent events and conditions around him.

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