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The First Circle (1992)

In the USSR, political prisoners who were scientists were not always sent to GULAG, but also to The First Circle (named after Dante's Inferno), a special incarceration unit near Moscow where they could work for the government.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Gleb Nershin
... Lew Rubin
... Nikolaj Schtschagow
... Wladimir Tschelnow
... Staline
David Hemblen
... 'Ruska' Rostislav
Heath Lamberts
... Valadine Innokenti
... Aletvina Makaraguine
... Pyotr Makaraguine
Coraly Zahonero ... Clara Makaraguine
... Riyumin
... Nikol
Corinne Touzet ... Nadia Nerzhin
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In the USSR, political prisoners who were scientists were not always sent to GULAG, but also to The First Circle (named after Dante's Inferno), a special incarceration unit near Moscow where they could work for the government.

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25 February 1992 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Den första kretsen  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was first announced in 1970 by producer Robert Solo, with Oscar winning director Fred Zinneman slated to direct but the project never materialised. See more »

Goofs

Throughout the film the wire recording is always called a tape recording even when the wire, wire recording spool and wire recorder are plainly shown. The wire recorder is actually shown in close-up while operating and still called a tape recorder. See more »

Connections

Version of V kruge pervom (2006) See more »

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Do see it...
12 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

In Dante's Hell, the first circle was where the enlightened pagans were located; it may have been hell--but the least painful, high class section of hell. So also is the name of the Soviet prison where the scientists work in this grim drama, and, as it unfolds, one can interpret that the first circle includes not just the prison, but the whole uppercrust society of the Soviet Union, with Stalin as Satan overlooking his domain.

An international production made shortly after the demise of the Soviet government, this sombre drama was produced on location. Like the novel it's based on, it has too many characters and it's probably too expansive a story even for a mini-series; although it takes place in just three days, it contains about two dozen characters that one must keep track of. Nonetheless, a patient viewer will be rewarded for it portrays the fear, oppression, and sometimes outright stupidity of the postwar U.S.S.R. Although F. Murray Abraham gets top billing, he's in it for only about six minutes, yet he's unforgettable as Stalin, playing the dictator not as the virile power that Robert Duvall suggested, but more as a wizened and petty thug, a paranoid tyrant in winter. Some might think Christopher Plummer overacts his role, but the real Abakunov was one who discovered that passion helped win promotions more than intellect did, and, as a result, he over-emphasized his zeal and deemphasized his thought (The mini-series doesn't portray this, but the real Abakunov would be executed one year after Stalin's death). The rest of the cast is wonderful, even if some are obviously foreign-language actors who are dubbed.

See it and rejoice in your freedom.


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