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 hemorrhage. Inevitably, when his body is discovered the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic spreads like a virus among 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
The cast members use their own native accents throughout the movie, resulting in a wide variety of American and British accents. The Soviet Union was immense, with many geographically isolated regions, so the Russian language has hundreds of different accents. Many of the real characters came from vastly different parts of the country, so they probably sounded as diverse as depicted in the movie. Stalin talks with what sounds like an English working-class accent. In real life, Stalin was born in the former Soviet state of Georgia. He learned Russian when he was eight or nine, and spoke Russian with a heavy Georgian accent for the rest of his life. Georgia was known for farming, so Stalin's Russian probably sounded quite rustic to most Russians. See more »
In real life, Zhukov did not have a large scar on his face. 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 »
What makes this film special is its outstanding ensemble of character actors. The committee room scenes in particular are a riot of jockeying for position, snide remarks and politicking of the highest, or should that be lowest, order. Performers of this calibre could bring even the dullest script to life, but it so happens they have excellent material to work with here, and they rise to it like the thoroughbreds they are.
British theatregoers will be familiar with names that are probably not at all known elsewhere: Dermot Crowley, Paul Chahidi and Karl Johnson are hugely respected in the UK for their distinguished careers on stage. Topping the lot is Simon Russell Beale, the current king of British classical acting, at last finding a film role that gives him an opportunity to show what he can do. He and Steve Buscemi are the central antagonists in THE DEATH OF STALIN, and it is a joy to watch them at each other's throats.
Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend, Paddy Considine, Tom Brooke...We are truly spoilt.
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