For those of us old enough to remember the strange goings on in the USSR when leadership changes were afoot, this biting satire surrounding the death of Stalin and the arrival Khruschev, who amazingly I once saw in the flesh only a few feet away, is especially relevant.
I have long studied the USSR, and as a youngster spent many hours listening to the English language propaganda from Radio Moscow, and have an extensive collection of stamps from the days of the USSR. I also read the fascinating story of Beria as told by his daughter a worthy insightful story for any student of the USSR.
So with this background, I had to watch this film, available from Sky Store and on Amazon Prime. There is more than a touch of Monty Python to this film and yet despite it being a satire there is enough to give you a glimpse of the reality of Politburo power struggles and the horrors of what we now refer to as “The Great Terror”.
It has one of the highest ratings on Rotten Tomatoes who sum it up thus:
"The one-liners fly as fast as political fortunes fall in this uproarious, wickedly irreverent satire from Armando Iannucci (Veep, In the Loop). Moscow, 1953: when tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale). But as they bumble, brawl, and backstab their way to the top, just who is running the government? Combining palace intrigue with rapid-fire farce, this audacious comedy is a bitingly funny takedown of bureaucratic dysfunction performed to the hilt by a sparkling ensemble cast.”
I can’t disagree with this at all, it is absolutely superb on every level. Michael Palin is excellent as Molotov and Steve Buscemi startlingly good as Khrushchev. Beria oozes oily evil and his well-documented end more than deserved.
Utterly brilliant in every way it lived up to all the hype and rave reviews which had, of course, made me slightly sceptical as always.
A clear five star classic of a film.
About the author
Stuart Catholic, Bibliophile,Cinephile, Deltiologist and Casual Philatelist. All things Apple, Been online since 1983.