Stalin: Movie Review

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Yousef Khalil
Modern World History
Research Paper


Hollywood seems to portray most of the historical movies it produces inaccurately in order for them to sell. Movie producers twist the original story and make up some facts, translated into scenes, which would attract the audience to a particular movie. But should we blame Hollywood, or the audience for being less aware of our history, and just pay to watch movies for the sake of entertainment, not caring on how historically inaccurate it is? The idea of historical events literally being rewritten for the sake of an almost fictional retelling is something that can be regarded as controversial, but the fact of the matter is that Hollywood and film writers will always be able to take a historical story and spice it up simply for the sake of creating drama and subsequent revenue as a result. These films often contain the “based on a true story” message, but as long as it is not actually classed as a factual film, there is essentially nothing wrong with taking a historical event an re-telling it for the sake of a film. Not every event in history contained enough drama to be made into a film, but as long as the general basis of the event had the potential to create drama. Hollywood will always be able to take the story and make it into a blockbuster masterpiece just as they have done in the past and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. As long as they continue to do so, the concept is something that will continue to be shrouded in controversy from both historical enthusiasts and film critics alike.

Stalin (1992) was the movie of my choice that I think has the closest historically accurate content than any other movie. Narrated by Stalin's daughter Svetlana, this begins with Stalin joining Lenin and the Bolsheviks in their fight against the government, eventually setting up their own government themselves. Most of his biography is well known to us, however this movie brings out the character of Stalin as a psycho villain who did not trust a single person, not even his associates, and took extreme measures to exterminate all of them. His ego and paranoia alienated him from his friends and his family, even to the point where his wife Nadya (Julia Ormond) commits suicide and young Svetlana hates him. But in the end, he does not change, and this leads to his downfall and death. This movie really wasn’t a cinema film, but a television movie that wasn’t going to play neither in theaters nor around the world, which might count for something. This film would have been ruined by a big studio production. There is no way to "Hollywoodize" Josef Stalin. He was perhaps the worst and most brutal tyrant of the 20th century. Estimates range from 20-40 million deaths he was responsible for (Rummel, 2006) He was in no way a nice man. In him there was not an ounce of decency, only a vast void of feeling that Robert Duvall conveyed very well. The film itself almost seemed hollow or lifeless at times, and generally moved slowly. Passer's meticulous method pays off, however, with powerful performances from Plowright, Schell, and Ormond complimenting Duvall's brilliance. My whole point is Duvall is “Stalin’s” embodiment. This film is historically excellent. What most reviewers seem hung up on are accents, make-up and costumes. Most comment that it is historically inaccurate but give nothing very specific. The film is a broad overview of the life of Stalin and could never include every element of his life. All the important historical is there: the Revolution, the power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin, Stalin's rise to power, The great famines, The Great Purges and WWII. The film gives great insight into Stalin and the paranoia that he experienced and how that paranoia influenced the way he ruled over the Soviet Union. Many of the other characters were somewhat glossed over, but the film is essentially about Stalin and what made him tick, not about the...
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