When Bruce Chatwin was dying of AIDS, his friend Werner Herzog made a final visit. As a parting gift, Chatwin gave him his rucksack. Thirty years later, Herzog sets out on his own journey, ... See full summary »
Werner Herzog interviews Mikhail Gorbachev: just watch!
"Meeting Gorbachev" (2018 release; 90 min.) is a documentary about the life and times of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last President of the Soviet Union. As the movie opens, Gorbachev receives the crew in his office, where he is presented with chocolate (without sugar due to his diabetes) for his 87th birthday. Herzog informs us that it is April, 2018, and it is his third and last interview of Gorbachev in a span of 6 months. We then go back in time, as Herzog looks at Gorbachev's upbringing in the remote Stavropol region in the Soviet south. At this point we are less than 10 min. into the movie.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from writer-director Werner Herzog. Here he digs into the life of one of the pivotal leaders of the 20th century. Herzog sets the table nicely, showing us the early 80s, by which the Soviet Union was run into the ground, socially, morally and economically, and that drastic change (the Russian word for that being "perestroika") was needed. By the time Gorbachev came into power in the mid-80s, it was almost too late. Then the Chernobyl nuclear disaster took place in 1986, leading to another priority for Gorbachev: nuclear disarmament. The interviews themselves are okay (no major new revelations), what made the documentary work so well is the bigger picture, and how quickly it all happened. Werner Herzog, not a spring chicken either (he's not a crisp 78 years young) has made many documentaries before, and I typically love them. I've come to the point that as soon as I see Herzog's name associated with a documentary, I'll go watch it, period. Heck, he could probably even make a documentary about the Yellow Pages look and sound interesting. As for Gorbachev, he will forever be a beloved figure in the West, but not so much at home. When asked by Herzog what should be on his tombstone, Gorbachev responds: "We tried". (Incidentally, I visited the Soviet Union in 1983 while attending university in Belgium, and witnessed first hand the long lines of people trying to buy food staples from mostly empty store fronts. Absolutely amazing.)
"Meeting Gorbachev" premiered at last year's Telluride film festival to positive buzz, and it is no accident this movie is currently 100% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Saturday screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great (exactly 10 people). If you have an interest in geopolitics or important world leaders, you could a lot worse than this and I invite you to check it out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this