Werner Herzog, a co-director of this documentary (along with André Singer), interviews former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev over a period of six months. Excerpts of the interviews are included in the film along with footage regarding Gorbachev's term as leader of the former Soviet Union during which massive, positive changes took place in the 1980s and early 1990s. "Meeting Gorbachev" is a UK/Germany/USA co-production and is in four languages: English, Russian, German, and Polish.
It is great to see a film highlighting one of the greatest times in history of the past forty years. In addition to being a primary player in ending oppressive Communism in eastern Europe, Gorbachev had worked with US president Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear weapons and end the Cold War of that time period.
The film is a great nostalgia trip for anyone who recalls this era - and for those wishing desperately that the current world leaders could come close to emulating those during the era covered in the film. One of the most striking images was a human chain across all three Baltic states in a peaceful protest against Soviet oppression. There are also moments of cheeky humour in reflecting the stubbornness of hard-line Communists who insisted that only those born before the Russian Revolution were worthy of being Soviet leaders. (Three funerals of leaders took place in a short four-year period as a result.)
The man and his history are certainly worthy of a tribute but the film doesn't live up to its subjects. It begins to sag in the last half-hour. In addition, Herzog's voice (and perhaps, his ego) grates as a narrator/interviewer as much as it did in "Grizzly Man" (2005). While his English is good, the film would have improved with someone else with better narration skills. Also, near the end, Herzog asks Gorbachev embarrassingly stupid questions regarding Gorbachev's dealing with the absence of his beloved wife, Raisa, who died in 1999.
But the project was made and it's a good start in returning this great man to the spotlight. Hopefully, another filmmaker will up the ante and make a better film than this one on the same subject. And high praise must also be given to Gorbachev for being so strong and astute in his late eighties.
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