Opens Theatrically Friday, May 7
Written & Directed by Sergei Loznitsa
Theatrical ticketing only – not available in Virtual Cinema
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) was a close competitor with Hitler and Mao for the 20th century’s greatest murderer. This masterful compilation of beautifully restored archival footage captures vast hordes of mourners across the USSR following his death, culminating in the queasily lavish multiday funeral proceedings. Originally shot by the Soviets themselves (in both black and white and glorious color), it gives insight into the cult of personality that Stalin perpetuated throughout his 26-year reign. Seen on screen (but without identification) are the Communist Party brass (Beria, Malenkov, Molotov, Khrushchev), who, some historians suspect, poisoned Stalin just as he was about to launch a new anti-Semitic campaign.
J. Hoberman, writing in Artforum calls the film “a mesmerizing, two-hour assemblage fashioned from archival material intended for THE GREAT FAREWELL, a never-released feature documenting the March 1953 funeral of Soviet maximum leader Joseph Stalin…Both awesome and stupefying, conjuring the spectacle of a dead pharaoh laid to rest in a celluloid pyramid of his own design.”
Presented with support from the Ostrovsky Family Fund.
2019 135 MINS. THE NETHERLANDS / LITHUANIA IN RUSSIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
A MUBI RELEASE
“[A] don’t-miss…uses astonishing archival material…to create a meditation on national identity, authoritarianism, and a terrifying cult of personality.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Eloquently grotesque. Cannily edited. Recreates the mass delusion of citizens across the Soviet Union who reacted to the news of his demise as though they had lost their ideal father.”
– Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
“Archival footage, much of it never seen before, all restored to such pristine condition that it could almost have been shot yesterday… Music also runs throughout the film, sometimes in the form of classical compositions (Chopin, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, et al), heard almost subliminally in the background…to subtly ironic effect.”
– Jonathan Romney, Screen International