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Sad, beautiful, very moving
Bobs-922 November 1999
This film is a great favorite of mine, though it's a hard-sell to recommend to friends. It's an extremely moving story that brings tears to your eyes, without manipulating you by "pulling the strings." The pathos emerge from the events and the (very well-played) characters depicted. Russian artists seem to have a special affinity for this, and for Konchalovsky this is a very accessible film. Was it tailor-made for Western audiences? The cast would suggest so. Although Tom Hulce was wonderful in "Amadeus," seeing him in "The Inner Circle" impressed me no end. I think it's telling that more than one reviewer of Russian descent on the IMDb found his characterization quintessentially Russian. It's a damn shame we don't see more of his work in films these days. The character of Ivan's wife Anastasia might have helped given rise to some comments that the characters are two-dimensional. As played by Lolita Davidovich, she is all simple, sweet naivety. Somewhat distractingly, for me she evoked memories of Gilda Radner in her appearance and voice. Nevertheless, I enjoyed her performance, and thought it an honest and effective one. All of us should have the opportunity to know someone like Anastasia in our lifetimes. Like many such characters in works of fiction, she proves to be too good to live. The scene at the end of the film, when Ivan sees the teenaged Katya amongst the mob at Stalin's funeral, and runs over the heads and shoulders of the crowd to prevent her from killing herself in the lethal crush -- it's absolutely devastating. How Konchalovsky finds a credible way to set the scene of their cathartic breakdown to each other to the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" symphony is really ingenious. I get misty just writing about it. Maybe it's not for everybody, but I can't praise it highly enough.
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Essential viewing
murpz24 February 2003
This movie haunted me for months after seeing it, but I think that it should be considered required viewing. This movie does an amazing job at showing the kind of mindset which allows tyrants like Stalin to get away with their crimes. Those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it, and this movie does a great job at hammering that understanding home in a very heart-wrenching manner. This movie will shake you up but you'll come away from it with some really interesting perspectives on the human spirit and what we're capable of.
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b2tall20 March 2005
As an armchair historian who's read dozens of book on Stalin and the Soviet Union under his control, I was fascinated by this movie. A great cast helps underscore the paranoia, backstabbing, and fear of the Stalinist system as seen through the eyes of a small-time player who's been thrust into a very dangerous circle.

Hulce is terrific as the simple, hard-working Soviet citizen who wants nothing more than to believe in the system that dominates his life, yet he knows it's a system riddled with traps and monsters. Hoskins is equally good as the real-life monster Beria - Stalin's chief of state security and main hatchet-man.

A highly underrated movie.
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Paranoia and naivete in societal insanity of Stalin's Russia
pshagar11 December 1999
I decided to review this film because of its emotional impact.

Like "The Killing Fields," it creates tremendous tension in the viewer by portraying sympathetic, likable characters within an environment of tremendous evil.

The acting and cinematography are both excellent, making a direct connection with the feelings of every character.

My only criticism is very slight (I did rate it a 10, after all), but I wondered a bit at the persistance of Sanchin's naivete. While this is central to his character, I found it a little difficult to comprehend based on what he went through.
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very depressing!
ebert_jr24 December 2000
Unbelievable...that's all that kept going through my mind. How could people treat others so badly? I saw this around Christmas time and it totally bummed me out. Wow, not a film for the holiday season! Basically, if you had any doubts at all about the horror that was Russia's Stalinist era, here is your confirmation. Good Acting, sad, sad story, tragic even, photography excellent (some shots looks so realistic! Of course, some scenes were shot in the Kremlin, supposedly).

Very moving film.
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another brilliant realization of the theme of "little man"
FFC8 November 1999
There is a human tragedy of global scale - and those humans who sway this tragedy and who just turned out to be grains of sand under those wheels of history. To model what those people were in their good and weak producers and authors of "The Inner Circle" made an awesome cast in this movie - don't you agree that Bob Hoskins playing marshal Berija is worth seeing anyway. Lolita Davidovich's and great Russian actor Oleg Tabakov's was magnificent performance. And at last the central character - Ivan Sanshin - is utterly shrill figure and utterly potent message. Due to genius Tom Hulce who looks and acts completely and very naturally Russian - as I see it being Russian myself. No further words on Tom Hulce - he's just a great actor (though not a "star" in the industry, as I can guess) and every one of his works worth seeing. Even in his small role in "Parenthood" he's very convincing and dramatic - and in "The Inner Circle" he has a great material to work on... An obvious merit of this film - it is historically accurate (with exception of ahead-of-time tanks and probably something else) in details. Accurate Soviet uniforms in a Western movie is really very rare thing and in this film uniform of NKVD-officers looks authentic to the Soviet people like me... And the director's job is not bad at all - Konchalovsky has his peaks and faults and The Inner Circle is one of the peaks, I guess...
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exceptional film
MartinHafer23 March 2006
This is a very rare picture, in that Western films very, very rarely mention Stalin and even fewer feature him on film. It's funny because although several movies have been made about Hitler, films about Stalin (and Mao) are conspicuously absent. That is why I appreciated this film so much. Although Stalin was not the MAIN character in the movie, but his projectionist, it gave great insights into this monstrous man. What also is very interesting is how Hulce's character adores Staline, but over time he becomes more and more horrified of him--sort of like how the USSR viewed him over time as well.

The acting, direction and camera work are all excellent and there is really nothing negative I can say about the film. An unusual and important film historically.
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a great, underrated and almost anknow movie
dbaldoni6 October 2006
I saw this movie in the 90s and there were no more than 10 people inside the cinema and the movie did impress me at that time. then i watched it again few days ago and i can only confirm my first impression. it gives a true and realistic view on what stalinism was with that feeling of terror and madness that permeates the entire movie. Hulce, Davidovich and Hoskins deliver a great performance. It is an almost unknonw movie that rivals with blockbusters such as Schindler's list without suffering any inferiority complex. We celebrate the holocaust day every year but we don't know much about stalinism and its atrocities. this movie opens the door and it does it greatly. watch it!
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Even an Act of Love could be an act of treason in Stallin's RUSSIA
AfterDarkMSweet5 November 2003
To The Actors & Actress and Writers & Director of The INNER CIRCLE go my heartiest congratulations To these People belong the rare distinction of having made the greatest Movie of Joseph Stallin's RUSSIA.A Movie unparalled in the Modern Film & Stage industry.This Magnificent Achievement was Made possible by their Spirit,Courage,Unselfish Cooperation,and loyalty to their Trade.Their Movie Should be an inspiration to the Actors & Actress that will fill their Places in future Years in the Film & Stage Industry.

Stephen Hudson
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A masterpiece...Far better than Schindler's List!
ParaGraph9 July 1999
Andrei Konchalovsky have always been my favorite russian director, but this is his best film. It tells us about a national tragedy: Stalin tirany. Some wonderful forgein actors also add to the success of the film. They are Tom Hulce, Lolita Davidovich (Indictment: The McMartin Trial (HBO:1995)), Bess Meyer is wonderful as the Jweish girl Katya. The scene of Stalin's funeral is so shocking and touching when Katya is trying to get close to the coffin with Stalin and Ivan (Tom Hulce) is holding her because she could got killed. The most horrible thing about Katya's thoughts is that she is so devoted to comrade Stalin, she says that it's just because of her she is an educated person, she lives okay (really horrible), but 'twas Stalin who arrested her parents only because they're Jewish people. She says: What profession can I get - I am a Jew, you know. That shocks. There's no a thind more horrible than when since his or hers childhood a preson thinks that he/she is worse than the others... Thank you, Andrei Sergeevich for this wonderful and touching masterpiece
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The house on Slaughterhouse Street
sol121824 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
**SPOILER** True story of Iavn Sanshin, Tom Hulce, who became Russian Dictator Joseph Stalin's, Aleksandr Zbruyev, personal film projectionist and, in his mind, close and personal friend. It's during the turbulent years of WWII that Ivan got to know Stalin and his henchmen like the head of the infamous NKVD-erroneously referred to in film as the KGB-Lavrenty Beria, Bob Hoskins. In fact the KGB replaced the NKVD in 1954 a year after Baria's death and fifteen years after the events in the movie "The Inner Circle" were to take place.

Ivan working his way up the ladder as a Soviet KGB officer, in the field of communications, gets more and more detached from his wife Anastasia, Lolita Davidovich,that leads her to almost leave him. Swearing blind and total obedience to his great leader Comrade Stalin Ivan overlooks the horror that Stalin, and his Commie thugs, have brought upon the Russian people as well as nation. It's when Ivan gets Anastasia a job as a waitress to the Soviet bigwigs that he learns how evil and despicable they really are. This later leads Anastasia to hang herself leaving a distraught Ivan, who had told her he loved Comrade Stalin more then herself, to rethink his misplaced and fanatical love for "Uncle Joe" Stalin and his Socialist Soviet Peoples Republic; or in short USSR.

Still under the spell of the "Great Liberator" and "Man of the People", as well as every boys and girls best friend, Joseph Stalin Ivan soon comes in contact with 17 year old Katya Gubelman, Bess Meyer whom he hasn't seen in over ten years. Katya as an infant was sent away to a KGB orphanage after her parents-Ivan's next door neighbors-were accused and sent to Siberia for secretly working and spying, by going on a trip abroad, for the Capitalists.

Even though Katya-like Ivan-is a fanatical follower of the Russian Dictator, she thinks he's cute, it's very obvious that she's been brainwashed, at the KBG orphanage, and is too young and impressionable to see the truth behind the man. There's nothing good or decent as well as patriotic about Stalin at all! In fact he's one of the biggest mass murderers in recorded history who's victims far outnumber even those of Adolph Hitler! And on top of all that it's Stalin, or his underlines, who's responsible for the deaths, in a Siberian Soviet gulag, of Katya's own parents!

It took a long while for Ivan to come to realize what his devotion to Stalin and the rotten and corrupt system, Stalinist Communism, that he represented did not only to himself but to the tens of millions of Russians, like Katya, who blindly and almost religiously worshiped him.

This dark period in Russian history came crashing down to an end on March 5, 1953 when the "Great Patriotic Leader" of the Soviet Union-Joseph Stalin-quietly passed away in his sleep at the ripe old age of 73. At Stalin's state funeral millions of Russians tried to get a last glimpse of the Soviet Dictator, with hundreds being crushed to death in the process, as he lie in state in the "Hall of Soviet Heros" inside the Kremlin. It was some three years later that Stalin was exposed to the Russian people, as well as entire world, as the madman and murderous psycho that he really was by non-other then his former Ukrainian butt-kisser, who carried out some of Stalin's worst atrocities, and now new-in 1956-leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev.

After lying in state next to the founder, and fellow Commie thug, of the USSR the mummified Vladimir Lenin Stalin's body, on Khrushchev's direct orders, was removed from its place of honor and buried in a common and unmarked grave outside the Kremlin walls. So much for the "Great Liberator" of the Russian people who, according to his propaganda ministry, watched over them like a sweet and kindly old gardener lovingly watches over, and nurtures, his prized tulips roses and lilies!

P.S Aleksandr Zbruyev's, the Russian actor playing Joseph Stalin in the movie, father Victor who was a vice-minister of communications in the USSR back in the 1930's was arrested and convicted for being a Capitalist spy in 1937 a year before Aleksandr was born. After Victor's staged show-trial, that lasted just 15 minutes, he was taken outside the courtroom and executed within the Kremlin walls.
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Sanshin is us.
PWNYCNY14 June 2014
This movie is about a tragic figure – Sanshin, Joseph Stalin's movie projectionist, who wallows in his delusions about Stalin's greatness and infallibility, only to come to his senses when it is too late. Although the movie clearly has a political spin - the Soviet Union was bad place and Joseph Stalin a sinister and malevolent figure - it deals with a much broader fundamental theme. People choose to believe what they want, even if these beliefs do not conform to the facts. Thus, one might live in a slum and truly believe that they live in a palace and that things are good. For to acknowledge the truth is simply too painful. Sanshin believed that Stalin was looking out for the people; that Stalin could do no wrong; that Stalin was everything the newsreels claimed he was. It is easy to dismiss Sanshin as a naïve fool, but, as the movie shows, he was being bombarded by propaganda generated by a regime that controlled the distribution of information, all of which was pro-Stalin. To question the credibility of the government meant not only to place oneself and family at risk, but to question one's own personal beliefs. Thus, it is not unreasonable that Sanshin sang praises for Stalin. But what is one to do when reality and belief conflict? This question forms the crux of the story. Sanshin is forced to confront reality, with tragic consequences. By the end of the movie, Sanshin's dreams are shattered. He becomes a figure to be pitied, a victim of a system that exploited his loyalty and devotion for devious and self-serving purposes. Sanshin is us.
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"Who do you love more, me or Comrade Stalin?"
BERSERKERpoetry26 December 2009
Too often, films set in Russia depict its citizens as simply Americans who happen to have a communist government. The truth is, of course, that they're two very dramatically different cultures. So why does this film get it right? Andrei Konchalovsky, the director, is Russian. Born in 1937, he grew up in exactly the world he creates here on screen. But this isn't a film designed for Russians - it is in English, and was destined to clarify the average westerner's understanding of the world's largest nation. Sadly, that was not to be. "The Inner Circle" played well in just about every country it was received - EXCEPT America. Konchalovsky, despite his early 80s artistic successes, was just coming off a pair of pathetic director-for-hire jobs ("Homer and Eddie", "Tango & Cash"). This is a return to form promised by earlier work like "Runaway Train". What makes Andrei Konchalovsky's style so enthralling exactly? I couldn't tell you. It's actually an older style of film-making, semi-static in nature. But its ability to create singular, intense images, leaves a film that stays in your mind.

But what of the other factors essential to "The Inner Circle"? Tom Hulce plays a man with a tragic flaw - he places all his trust in those who deserve none of it. He is enthralled with a world of people who are, at best, amused by his devotion - at worst, utterly indifferent. Hulce gives a lot to the role. He covers every conceivable emotion, going up highs and down lows with such complete believability that you go with him. This is the best performance I've seen from him. Other performances center around this. Lolita Davidovich, who plays his young wife, is given some of the film's best scenes (many of which she actually plays solo). She can break your heart.

There's a key scene in the cinematography for me. During the passage where two women have a conversation in the empty bunkroom of an orphanage, Ennio Guarnieri creates an intensity that alters back and forth as the cross between different lightings. Throughout the entire film, he brings out deep browns and blues, miserable, cold tones. Any production filmed in the Kremlin could easily mimic its atmosphere, but "The Inner Circle" brings a humanity that is just that much more miserable.

I can't promise that this is exactly your sort of film, but if Russia interests you, or epic dramas, or the former USSR, or even the character of Stalin himself - this is something you should see. Besides anything, "The Inner Circle" is a great film. It truly is.
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A Masterpiece
putrantos19 March 2008
I have lived in Russia in 1974-1977, and that was already past Stalin era, it was Brezhnev era. Somehow the situation in 1974 was not very much different. The same oppressed Russian people. Exactly like in the movie. I've seen this movie in the nineties in Indonesia. Everything is so real in this movie. I could even smell the Moscow air, the cold Moscow wind, freezing Russian winter. The people (characters) in the movie are very real. It's like being there again, back in Russia (CCCP). I could feel the thrill of being oppressed, when watching this movie. This is the best movie portraying Russia and the Russians, made by a Russian.
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Absolutely wonderful film, sad beautiful, based on historic truth
malcotoro17 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had just been watching the recent very mediocre Archangel with Daniel Craig, when I thought of this absolutely magnificent film about the life of Stalin, in this case centred on his projectionist in the Kremlin screening room. I have seen it only on HBO travelling in the States, but I found a copy on Video and watch it every so often. It never fails to move me, and I just love the work of the main stars, Tom Hulce and Lolita Davidovitch, worthy of academy awards both of them. There is one scene compelling, moving and funny black humour which I never miss. Stalin is angry when the projector stops during the screening, he storms verbally at his Minister of Industries. We have many shortages during this war with the Germans but we are not short of steel to make a little spring, and in any case I told you to develop a Russian projector, not a copy of a German machine. The Minister of Industries suddenly appears to want to visit the bathroom, when Beria steps aside to make a phonecall. From the looks of amusement on Beria's face, and as Stalin's hit and henchman, we know well what might happen. Tom Hulce however is good at his job, he fixes the projector in rapid time. Stalin looks up, But we have not even had time to finish our tea, comrade. Stalin then pleasantly beckons the projectionist to come over and join his group of generals, cronies and ministers for tea. Hulce's hands are shaking his cup and saucer in the presence of the great dictator. Queried about his nervousness, Hulce says Comrade Stalin I have never been this close to you before. Stalin with a deathly smile replies, Well comrade, I have never been THIS close to you before, but MY hands are not shaking. This movie leaves a lasting effect, we learn from history, or we should Comment from Malcolm in Toronto 17th August 2007
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A Chilling Insight
hmpulham22 December 2002
After reading the comments of several Russians who have given their special insights on this film, I see no point in my going into detail about its plot. But, for the Americans who were bored with it... well, history is not your thing, to use the vernacular. For me, this movie exposed the odious nature of Soviet totalitarianism, and the complete human conformity that was required for survival. This is an important film.
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Hulce Shines Again
grimace-716 May 2000
As if we needed any further proof of Tom Hulce's wonderful ability and range as an actor, here he puts across one of his best performances. Larry Kroger (aka Mozart and Quasimodo) adds another dimension to his fine resume.
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The amazing true story of Stalin's cinema projectionist
robert-temple-129 December 2015
This is a strange insider's tale, that's for sure. A man named Ganshin was the NKVD's cinema projectionist (called the 'KGB' in English, but that is just a simplification of course for people who never heard of its predecessor) and was suddenly coopted to start screening movies for Stalin and his 'Inner Circle', which included the spy boss Beria. This is therefore an extraordinarily interesting and revealing film of that man's tragic story. Ganshin is played in the film by the American actor Tom Hulce, best known for playing Mozart in AMADEUS (1984). He does an excellent job, far better I must say than he did with Mozart. He has just the right amount of naïve credulousness and open-eyed faith in Stalin and the system to be convincing. He, like so many millions of others at that time, was a 'true believer'. Such people genuinely believed that Stalin was a kind and loving Father of the Nation. Such was the extent and success of the brainwashing at that time! Indeed, Stalinist Russia was so like today's North Korea that the resemblances are eerie. The personality cult of Stalin was all-encompassing, and the mystique of his invincibility and superhuman wisdom was wholly accepted by the mass of the public. This is why the portrayal of Stalin in this film by the Russian actor Aleksandr Zbruev is so incredibly effective. Zbruev himself was the son of one of Stalin's ministers! But in 1937 the father was arrested and executed for being 'an enemy of the people' in the Great Purge. Zbruev here plays the man who ordered his own father's execution. He plays Stalin as a quiet, modest and straight-talking man who very softly, like a priest or a sophisticated gentleman, orders millions to be killed. In other words, as a psychotic, Stalin did not rant and rave, he quietly killed people by the millions as if he were putting a baby to sleep in a cot. The total terror inspired by the man amongst his immediate associates is better understood when we realize that they were dealing with a quiet psychopath, who smiled gently at those whom he intended to exterminate minutes later. As for Beria, he is played with great subtlety and terrifying menace by Bob Hoskins. The film was shot in Moscow, using a number of the real buildings as locations, and directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy, one of Russia's most brilliant directors, who has also worked a lot abroad. He is known for SIBERIAD (1979), RUNAWAY TRAIN starring Jon Voigt (1985), and SHY PEOPLE (1987), which is set in the bayous of Louisiana. His film RAY will be released in 2016, so that he is still very hard at work despite the fact that he is 79 years old. Hulce's wife is played by the Canadian actress Lolita Davidovich. Her acting is very intense and effective in the latter half of the film, where her situation has become so desperate. There are wonderful Russian character actors in the film, such as Feodor Chaliapin, Junior, aged 85, playing the old professor who insists that 'Satan is in the Kremlin'. The story of this film is a hair-raising one and not easily summarised. The many tragedies are heart-breaking, but then very many millions of hearts broke under Stalin, not to mention the many millions of hearts which stopped beating altogether under his gentle policy of looking after his beloved people by means of mass murder. One is left with the big question to which there has never been an answer: why is it that most of human history has been defined by psychopathic leaders who commit mass murder? Why has this scenario recurred throughout all the thousands of years of recorded history with unerring similarity? A maniac gets control of a country and starts killing everyone and no one stops him. Millions die. Still no one stops him. Even more millions die. And even then no one stops him. Does the blame lie with those who let him rise to power? Does it lie with those who suffer quietly under him and sometimes worship him while the blood in the street rises up the level of their necks? Why is it that so many political leaders are psychopaths anyway? (There are plenty of them spread around the world at the present time.) This is a question which people ignore at their own peril. This film is a useful lesson in how homicidal maniacs seize and use power, and keep it by means of inspiring sheer terror.
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Inner Circle, Red Square and Love Triangle ...
ElMaruecan8211 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I have not enough words to describe how criminally underrated Andrey Konchalovskiy "Inner Circle" is. Truly one of the greatest 90's movies, that should have grabbed more awards, had it the proper budget and the publicity it deserved.

There's a crucial moment halfway the film, between Ivan, Tom Hulce as a naive and idealistic man who's just been promoted projectionist of the Kremlin, and Anastasia, Lolita Davidovich as his pragmatic and disillusioned wife. He just learned that she spent years visiting the daughter of their former neighbors, recognized traitors to the motherland, hence, threatening the high lifestyle he kept maintaining with a low profile.

Ivan asks: "Who do you love better, me or Katya Gubelman?" "Who do you love better, me or Comrade Stalin?" She answers.

And that perfectly encapsulates the tragedy of "The Inner Circle". It's about a love triangle. Ivan is a loving husband but like all the USSR citizens in the 30's, he has an unshakable faith on the Soviet regime and its great leader Stalin. He answers Stalin without blinking an eye, a comical answer if not so tragic. And Anastasia loves him too, but she's obsessed with Katya, put in an orphanage after the arrest of her parents, victims of one of these purges that the Soviet regime used to eliminate or intimidate eventual 'plotters'. But Anastasia's love isn't just something made of maternal instinct.

Obviously, Katya would be better living with Ivan and Anastasia. Obviously, Katya is innocent in every meaning of the word. Obviously, she can be adopted although her Jewishness might be an issue (but the film doesn't clear that point). Yet, because of the untimely circumstances of Ivan's promotion, and the way it might undermine his opportunity to live the 'Soviet Dream', it becomes an unfeasible thing at the expenses of reason. And many events in the film happen at the expenses of reason, and this is why the inner circle gets more and more vicious as the plot progresses.

But there's something defining in Ivan's personality, his promotion occurs on the same day of his neighbors' arrest, so that he gets a glimpse of the worst and the best, that can ever happen to a man in these days. When lives hung on a thread, suspicion could become as deadly as accusation. The power of the film, based on the memories of real life projectionist Ivan Ganchin is to make us follow the show and the sideshow of the Soviet system from the perspective of a husband and a wife. And as we understand Anastasia's quest, the closer to the 'inner circle' we get, the more paranoid we feel.

There's an extraordinary sequence when Ivan gets ready for Stalin's arrival, with his 'inner circle' including Foreign Affaires Molotov and Security Chief Beria (Bob Hoskins) and you can read the nervousness in the eyes of all the officers. One inspects the corridors and discovers ashes on a jar, and gives a female subordinate a ruthless warning, but later, the roles are reversed when a General finds a bottle with an opened cap. We know this is a very serious fault when he just saw operators checking if air isn't poisoned with vacuum cleaners. That's another of these powerful ironies, the higher you climb the social ladder, the more fragile is your position, and the harder you might fall.

Every thing goes fine that night, whose emotional peak is reached when Ivan makes his first eye contact with Stalin (Tom Hulce's performance is grotesquely phenomenal, now here's an actor severely underused in movies). After Stalin leaves, everyone can finally take a break and savor what's left from food (which can neither be taken from the Kremlin or served again). But in another evening, Ivan understands the precariousness of any position, when a default in a projection machine puts the Ministry two inches away from the Gulag, and he understands that maybe his predecessor didn't really die of tuberculosis. And we know that there'll be a payback despite Ivan's cautiousness. And it does happen, but not because of Anastasia, although she'll be part of Ivan's moral downfall.

The tragedy of Anastasia reveals also the horrific side of all the members of the 'inner circle', on the top of them, Beria. After having tacitly renounced to his wife, who becomes a KGB agent carrying a child, Ivan can only weep over the ugliness of the world he's been immersed into. His heart disappears with Anastasia's suicide… so that the only connection to such things as love and reality will come back ten years later, as Katya, a brainwashed teenager, now calling her own parents traitors.

"The Inner Circle" is a movie about Cinema and projectionist, so it deals very much with images; the most prevalent being the face of Stalin and its immediate contradiction once you get inside his circle. Images that lie are only matters of perception, but some are indelible, like the blood stain Katya's father left on the wallpaper when he crushed his head during his arrest. The stain remained in the house ever since Ivan and Anastasia moved in, and even Katya would discover it. The haunting stain is an image that speak thousands world about the cruelty and absurdity of a totalitarian system that was so destructive it even killed people at the death of Stalin. Anastasia didn't need the stain to understand life, yet she let herself being destroyed, proving that she indeed loved Ivan more than anything.

And Ivan would think back of his foolish answer on the day of Stalin's funeral after he prevented Katya from being trampled, and realized that the most important things in life should never be affected or left to any political power. He gave his wife as a pimp to the KGB executives as he left Katya to the orphanage, but he wouldn't let her go again, closing his flawed character's arc the perfect way, humanly speaking.
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Steel, Coldness and Ivan Sanshin
acg_Pangea17 May 2009
The Inner Circle is one of the movies which you can learn tasteless facts of history. While We Watch Stalin's private film projectionist Ivan Sanshin's life, actually we testify the whole nation's fate under the wings of Stalinism. The Inner Circle is so successful to portraits those sorrowful years. Yes, it's true that "bitterness level" of The Inner Circle is high(and maybe necessary too) but this movie tells this bitter story with a marvelous aesthetics that you feel both sorrow and ebullition at the same time. To able to take lesson from history, to able to understand a other nation's formidable and sorrowful efforts and to able to enjoy cinematic feast(which gives you mixed feelings)The Inner Circle must be seen. Watching The Inner Circle is definitely a rewarder experience.
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What a lame movie!!!!!!!!!
leslie_4_991 March 2002
This has to be the most boring movie I ever sat through. It is dreary and drab, has no excitement, the acting by Hulce is terrible as Hulce cannot pull off the proper accent required for this film. The story is stupid and I sure wouldn't recommend this crap for anyone unless you want to die of boredom.
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Cinema Inferno (vhs)
leplatypus15 January 2017
The angle of this movie is really interesting because instead to have the usual biopic of the "leader", we have the point of view of the citizen: at the beginning, this common man is blinded by the regime but soon its evil breaks him and his family: the choice of amazing Tom Hulce is excellent as he is one who can express all the inner characters of the good guy: optimism, enthusiasm and sadness. Hoskins plays an unusual abusive bastard in the vein of all man with power who felt beyond laws and limits. The production is really well done with the costumes and the Kremlin interiors. Usually, i can't stand Stalin period productions but this one is really different and moving!
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Probing, seriously critical, some flaws
cliff-1912 June 2002
There are a myriad of insightful techniques in this film that reveal themselves with repeated viewings. The recurring images of cows being led to slaughter are my favorites. A great tale of a horrible situation.

That being said, I did not appreciate Russians speaking English with Russian accents. I compare it to the way the DeNiro film "Stalin" dealt with language. Ethnic Russians spoke with very proper British accents, ordinary Russians with common English accents, and Stalin with a rough accent, using simple language, that was hard to place.

I also found Tom Hulce's performance to be excessively maudlin. The sense of irony that all the other characters seemed to have was absent in his.
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