Moscow, 1953. After being in power for nearly thirty years, Soviet dictator Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) takes ill and quickly dies. Now the members of the Council of Ministers scramble for power.
In early-1953 Moscow, under the Great Terror's heavy cloak of state paranoia, the ever-watchful Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, collapses, unexpectedly, of a brain haemorrhage. As a result, when someone discovers his body the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic starts spreading like a virus amongst the senior members of the Council of Ministers, as they scramble to maintain order, weed out the competition, and, ultimately, take power. But, in the middle of a gut-wrenching roller-coaster of incessant plotting, tireless machinations, and frail allegiances, absolutely no one is safe; not even the feared chief of the secret police, Lavrenti Beria. In the end, who will prevail after the death of Stalin?Written by
When he arrives at Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin's (Adrian McLoughlin's) dacha and discovers Stalin collapsed on the floor, Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich (Dermot Crowley) quietly curses under his breath instead of feigning grief unlike the other members of the presidium. This was an indirect reference to the events of Lenin's demise early into the Soviet Union's formation and how Kaganovich, who was a Bolshevik as early as 1917, narrowly survived the resulting purging and ensuing grab for power that resulted in Stalin's rule by backing the latter. See more »
Khrushchev's wife Ninais mentioned in the end credits as "Nina Khrushchev". However in Russia female names with "ev" at the end are named "eva" so it should have been said "Nina Khrushcheva". See more »
Black-and-white photographs of the main characters appear over the end credits, but various figures are airbrushed out, have their faces defaced, or have other people superimposed over them, as per Soviet photos of Trotsky and purge victims. See more »
This is an excellent film. And its treatment of the Stalin Era of the Soviet Union is both darkly humorous and actually very unflinching in its depicting the monsters and their monstrosities for what they were.
I was worried that, in an attempt to extract humor from the situation that they might've glossed over just how monstrous the key characters actually were. To Iannucci and Schneider's credit however, there was absolutely no glossing over at all. Beria, for instance, is portrayed as every bit the monster in human form that he was - this, even as that portrayal is also made darkly and delightfully humorous at times.
The whole cast played their parts well and played them "straight" - which only heightened the humor and the horror of what life was like under Stalin in the Soviet Union. Even the nominal "hero" of the tale, Nakita Khrushchev, is realistically portrayed as being just as conniving and callous and power hungry as everyone else. Buscemi would seem an odd choice for that particular role but he pulls it off with style and excellence. So too does Simon Russell Beale in his portrayal of Beria.
This is a nicely done film with excellent production values, a great script, fine acting, excellent pacing, and a compelling tale that is well told.
I highly recommend it!
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