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  • peter-818-59810827 August 2010
    8/10
    Gulag
    Warning: Spoilers
    Enjoyable made-for-TV-movie, loosely based on Alexander Dolgun's autobiography "Dolgun", in which he describes how he ended up in Soviet Gulag, and how he survived. Once you have read this book, the movie makes sense. Of course, the movie makes several detractments from the book, but it's not a movie that cites that it is based on that book, but it is a looses rendition of the story in the book, to an extent.

    As a Norwegian living in Oslo, it's great fun to see the settings for the various "Moscow" scenes: About 10' out in the movie, they're walking thru the Vigeland Sculpture park in Oslo. Next they're walking down Karl Johan Street, the National Theatre visible in the background. A visit to Oslo's City Hall is also part of the "Moscow" scenes, the "russian" guide pointing out the murals by Henrik Sørensen (from 1950). Later, the main character is walking thru the Botanical Gardens, only to be captured just outside in an everyday Oslo street (two schools visible in the background, Vahl & Hersleb). He is then taken to Lubjanka Prisonm to be interrogated. In this case, the old Main Post Office in Oslo. A tram, dirtied down & with Cyrillic characters on it's destination blind, passes by. A famous (in Norway) Norwegian actor, Bjørn Sundquist, has a small role as one of the Russian captors. At about 28 minutes out, he is taken to the train to transport him to the prison camp. The station is the old Oslo Østbane station (Still standing, but converted to shopping mall). The train is composed of typical Norwegian railway cars of the era (early 80's/late 70's.), but the car they're in is converted to a Stolypin car (of sorts). The train is pulled by a class Di.3 diesel engine. At about 0.32 the train arrives in Trondheim.

    Not a very high budget movie, but fun in in its own dated way, and with Malcolm Mc Dowell as The Englishman being, well, English. Worth watching, add some beers and some popcorn.
  • Those who say that this film is a cliche are not facing reality. I remember when some people were calling terrorists a silly cliche until 2 flew into the trade towers. Tyrants do and have always existed which may be a bit much for some sheltered mall crazy Americans to accept.

    In fact there has been much about Soviet activities that has remained not really revealed and most films about it have vanished. Even Second World War involvement by the Soviets both positive and negative is rarely mentioned. This film shows an interesting view of the rarely mentioned soviet system of prisons called Gulags in which millions had vanished with almost no photos or films of.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film includes a star runner who goes to Russia and is soon captured and held against his will. He's eventually sent out to the historical Gulag camp where he convinces two other inmates to attempt an escape. One of the guys ends up becomming a 'sandwich', that is, food for the other two during the cross country escape. There's a steamy shower scene about half way through the film where Nance Paul bares all.
  • Did you notice that the guards, or some of them, were paratroopers? They had the sky blue shoulder boards and berets. That's not right. People in the Gulag, or whatever it's called now, would be guarded by the Ministry of the Interior troops. They are called Vnutrennie Voiska, or Interior Army. Their shoulder boards are a dark red. They also don't wear berets. Paratroopers, in that time, would probably all have been in Afghanistan. For me, otherwise, this was enjoyable, in that I was a teenager during the 1980s Cold War, and as with any teenager, I wanted to kick butt. Plus, I've always liked Malcolm McDowell, and I liked him in this.
  • Having watched the very first scene (where Russians were singing "Kalinka" and dancing at the bar), I felt sick. I immediately thought, "Oh, one more idiotic film by ignorant ones who know nothing about Russia but any stupid cliches". Some scenes are indeed idiotic. Honestly, I laughed at them alot (for example, the episode where the main character, Mike, was taken to the jail full of water). However, there are some of quite good episodes. In fact, many scenes in a camp ( in 80s those camps weren't called Gulag, btw. Gulag existed in Stalinistic period before early 50s) are reliable.

    I guess, this film was made with very clear intention. Typical anti-Soviet propaganda. If you want to get knowledges about Russia (or Soviet Union of that time), don't see this film. There are many stupidities in this film.

    The best thing about this film is that all the actors played guards were Russians as they have spoken Russian without terrible accent. Very rare (and pleasant) thing. As for the characters, the only attractive one was Jewish professor Matvei (David Suchet). He was played with great power.This characters imbodies this horror and sadness of being prisoner. The only character I will be keeping in mind for a long time after watching this film.
  • After 30 years, this movie is obviously dated, but no more so than the much more numerous anti-Nazi propaganda films that are still seen today almost 70 years after Hitler's regime was wiped off the face of the Earth. When Gulag was made and first shown, there were, beyond any doubt, many thousands of prisoners in the USSR, large numbers of whom were arrested and imprisoned for their political or ideological opinions. Of course this was (and still is) the case in many other countries around the world, but when this movie was released, the USSR and its East European satellite states were the enemies of the USA and its allies, and however many clichés and inaccuracies the film contains, it was an entertaining and long-overdue look at one of the most unpleasant regimes of the 20th century, and a warning to all of us on both sides of the former Iron Curtain that we must ensure that Soviet Communism stays in the garbage can of history where it belongs.
  • This movie was so unrealistic and bad I had to turn it off. I eventually went back to finish it and it was so laughable it wasn't even funny. It does a great disservice to the actual Gulag dissidents and prisoners. It also downplays the number of millions killed by the Soviet Union in the Gulag camps. Don't waste your time on this movie.
  • roadbike196810 February 2020
    David Keith was amazing and this movie is a must see
  • Honestly, do Americans know how much we rubbish their blind devotion to the Good Ol' U. S. of A.? Highly strung anti-Soviet drama with Malcolm McDowell once again showing us how nasty the Brits can be. The scrumptious David Keith is starry-eyed but tasty as ever...he's the only reason I watched it anyway!
  • I have been trying to emulate for some time Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his documentary "Gulag Archipelago". But firstly let me say few words about "Gulag" (1985), based on the reviews from IMDb. The film was obviously shot in Norway and I as a referent from former Socialist Eastern Europe had grasp of it only recently. This movie was even more censored than "Caligula" with the same actor (British star Malcolm McDowell) which was pure pornography. Unlike Erotic Cinema and being it's little sister, Underground Cinema and Political Art are fake. Not many Directors and Actors dare reveal the whole truth and only the truth.

    This movie is an attempt to be as much convincing as "Midnight Express" (1978) - which is about an Englishman trying to escape from Turkish Prison System. While America and it's West Europe partners have been favoring Turkey's membership in NATO for very long time, it is nowadays that the system backfire. See, there is a new Soviet Union that now encompass Russia, Turkey and their satellites. Consider what would happen if those New Soviets (never mind whether Communist or Islamist) get hold of modern warfare technology blueprints. Enough is enough.

    Secondly, about that man Solzhenitsyn and his secret dossier with both KGB and FBI. Obviously, he was another loud mouth and both double and triple agent. Consider his troubled life both in the Soviet Union and as exile in Vermont, USA. He looks like a semi-deranged hermit and never appears in public unless specifically prearranged. His "questions-and-answers" interviews are structured beforehand and even after several corrected proofs are difficult to read. Solzhenitsyn never learned proper English and always used translators. Thus, a book titled "Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956" appeared for the Western public in the period 1973-1978. Personally, I don't know how many people both from Russia and abroad contributed for this book. The number of upliftings is considerable and catharsis is enormous. But tribute goes to Alexander Solzhenitsyn!

    Get more insights for modern barbed wire and forced labor from the bestsellers of Hedrick Smith - "Russians" (1976) and "New Russians" (1991). They are indispensable. Enjoy it!