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
Another film about the Soviet Union, Testimony (1987), briefly enacts the same historical event that begins this film (the ailing Stalin's aides desperately trying to get a recording of some orchestral music he has heard, although the original conductor has fainted). 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 »
[hearing Stalin's body hit the floor with a thud]
Should we investigate...?
Should you shut the fuck up before you get us both killed?
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 »
A crude, politically incorrect but also intelligent satire.
'The Death of Stalin' saw a really limited release in 2017 with very limited reviews and opinions. It's wide release around the world was in March of 2018, which means I can classify this as a 2018 film. I can predict this is going to be one of the best films this year. The picture was directed by Armando Iannucci who generally directed TV shows, however has received critical acclaim for his 2010 project In the Loop. After the Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin (who ruled Russia for the past 29 years) unexpectedly dies. His cabinet made most notably of Nikita Khrushchev, Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov is falling apart trying to figure out what direction the Soviet Union is going to go in next. Steve Buscemi plays Khrushchev, it's great seeing Buscemi in a leading role for a film again. He plays Khrushchev with enough sympathy but also an over the top and xany behaviour. This clearly is a parody of who we assume Khrushchev was. The film boasts a very interesting ensemble which includes: Jeffrey Tambor, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin and Simon Russell Beale. The majority of these actors are incredibly underrated and it's great seeing them get the opportunity to play unique and interesting characters. In particular I'm going to single out Simon Russell Beale and Jason Isaacs. Beale plays Lavrenti Beria, he is a member of Stalin's cabinet. His performance is truly diabolical, at first he is stone cold. He has no problem with sentencing people to death and laughing with it. He acts natural around horrible events which makes him very darkly funny. It is very obvious that he has his own ambitions. Isaacs is Field Marshal Zhukov, he is in charge of the Red Army. There is a sense of ruthlessness behind his eyes that makes him a force to be reckoned with. The film is really cleverly written, never afraid to drop f bombs and other curse words. What was interesting is that both Beria and Khrushchev are trying to paint themselves as the reformers. Their conflict is comical because they act like little children with constant bickering and no problem solving. A classic theme is when a leader dies the line between order and chaos disappears, anarchy arises within a land. The Death of Stalin offers an interesting spin on this idea as the afore order was the control of a dictator who was responsible for the death of millions. The camera work is fast and kinetic. It helps drawing the audience in and keeps them locked during the many conversation scenes. The biggest issue I had was with the character played by Olga Kurylenko. Without trying to spoil anything, there is an interesting character presented, however she doesn't seem to go anywhere. She is barely in the movie and didn't add much, this is my only flaw with the Death of Stalin. I highly recommend this film, however I must warn you this is not a drama. Many elements of this film that would generally be considered as atrocities are pulled for laughs here. If you're going to see this please keep the expectations on check. This is the closest thing we've had to a Monty Python's style of comedy.
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