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 film alludes to the 1950 plane crash in Sverdlovsk that killed most of the Soviet ice hockey team, which happened three years before Stalin's death. It is true that Vasili Stalin, the team's patron, feared his father's reaction and tried to recruit a new team at extremely short notice. See more »
Zhukov is introduced with the caption "Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov - Head of the Red Army" The rank of Field Marshal was abolished in Russia in 1917, Zhukov's rank was Marshal of the Soviet Union (he is usually referred to as Marshal Zhukov). Nor was he head of the army at the time of Stalin's death, as he had fallen out of favour with Stalin. 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 »
There's no avoiding truths rapidly passed over in this depiction of chaos following the death of an evil dictator. Stalin had charm...to those who were not his subjects and were never a threat to his authority. He fooled many so-called intellectuals in the West but everyone around him knew the truth, and, most managed to tip-toe over eggshells in order to stay alive. To thrive in such an environment requires a certain kind of callous ruthlessness...perfectly depicted with suitable crass humour here. The cast is perfectly chosen...each very accomplished actor adding their particular star dust. There's more than a single sittings' content in this film which deserves another viewing. Impressive and engaging story-telling based on real life events. Bravo all.
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