Stalin's Shadow: Long, Tragic and Beautiful (Review)

Stalin's Shadow: Long, Tragic and Beautiful (Review)

The Polish Agnieszka Holland signs a historical film which impresses, despite some lengths.

Released in June 2020 in cinemas, Stalin's shadow will be broadcast this evening on Arte, followed by a documentary on the Gulag. Both are also available free replay. Here is the review of First.

In 1933, Gareth Jones was an English political journalist who was as ingenuous as he was ambitious – and who had the good looks of James Norton, often cited as a potential new James Bond and seen for example in the excellent BBC mini-series War and peace (2016) with the cream of young actors british. Gareth, therefore, leaves for Moscow on a whim, dreaming of interviewing Stalin. He will discover, in addition to a beautiful colleague named Ada (played by Vanessa Kirby from The Crown), that under communist propaganda, the Soviet regime is starving Ukraine and committing a real genocide…

This overwhelming historical film, signed by veteran filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, is not without lengths and heaviness, with in particular a strong parallel, as unsubtle as necessary, between the plot and the writing of Animal Farm of Orwell – an additional plot which could have been dropped during the editing without much damage (Andrea Chalupa, the screenwriter of the film, is also a journalist and devoted an entire book to the making of Animal Farm : this explains it, but don't forgive it). Once this office chatter is over, Stalin's Shadow hits us with twenty brilliant minutes where our hero plunges into the dead Ukraine, a snowy Sheol populated by cannibal children and black shadows planted in the snow, and we say we're cool! this is cinema.

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