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
A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.
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. Inevitably, when his body is discovered in the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic spreads like a virus in 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
In the scene where Stalin collapses from a stroke, one guard, having heard his collapse from outside, asks if they should investigate, with the other guard bluntly refusing by shooting back that he should shut up before they are both killed by Stalin for entering without permission. This was a reference to the fact that Stalin left explicit orders to not disturb him while he was sleeping under any circumstances, with the penalty of disobeying being the death penalty, which was one of the reasons why no one attempted to investigate when he did not wake up at his usual time. See more »
Svetlana asks Beria to release Aleksei Kapler, her first love who is imprisoned in the gulag. Beria tells her that Kapler is dead. However, Kapler was released in 1953, soon after Stalin's death, and lived to 1979. There doesn't seem to be any reason for Beria to lie, since he is supposed to be ingratiating himself to Svetlana, and as the head of the NKVD he certainly would have known that Kapler was still alive. 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 »
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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