In May 1940, the fate of Western Europe hangs on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, or fight on knowing that it could mean a humiliating defeat for Britain and its empire.
Kristin Scott Thomas
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 proscription list being reviewed by Stalin shows names and crimes written in English, but printed in a Russian-style font. See more »
Faced with Stalin's imminent death, Svetlana says that she knows "doctors in Stalingrad". Stalingrad is an industrial city far away in Southern Russia. Surely, the writers meant Leningrad (St Petersburg) which would indeed have many distinguished doctors. Svetlana doesn't seem to have spent any time in Stalingrad, so there's no reason to think that she would have known doctors there. See more »
[Talking to Nikita Khrushchev]
How can you run and plot at the same time?
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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 »
Stalin would be loving it. In 1953 when he is found flat on his back and comatose, Stalin's corrupt, butt-kissing underlings cause chaos and terror with their plotting and scheming to replace him. Nightmares make more sense. Purges sweep away the unwise and unlucky, army and security forces vie for the upper hand, prison doors open and close, executions take place in broad daylight and back stabbing rules the day. This is political satire at its best.
History, humor, brilliant quotes and somber visions about the past, present and future combine for a fantastic film. Truth is stranger than fiction, and one of the wonderful aspects of this film is how much the political trickery cuts to the bone. Vasily Stalin (the dictator's vodka guzzling son) gets on the podium, for instance, and military jets streak across the sky and drown out his speech. A planned distraction? Of course. Stunts like this could happen anywhere and are happening everywhere. The film rings true. It is an eye-opening and fabulous glimpse of the political underworld. This is how people get killed or locked away, when their stories don't fit. The actors are amazingly good, especially Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev and Jason Isaacs as Zhukov. If you like politics and history as much as I do, you will love this. The film is in English and a variety of accents. This device (the various accents) heightens the aspect of chaos and confusion. Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival.
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