1 February 2010 | gring0
Unremarkable study of "Grey Blur" than for a "Man of Steel"
Initial thoughts- the film is long; inordinately so. I feel this is due to the need to add romance and simple human passion in a film about a man who most agreed was quite sexless. It takes an hour to get to 1928, but the whole of the Second World War takes a mere 15 minutes!!! Not enough opportunity for romance and love during a war that saw possibly 27 million Soviets die, one supposes. I admit my hero Churchill is not the prettiest person to dance with at a Russian knees-up. Duvall seems to be conjuring up a Brandoesque Corleone with huge moustache to add to the epic feel, but here I have a quibble. Whilst I don't have a real problem with his performance (he does seem to have the man down), many have noted his accent. EVERYONE speaks with affected Russian accents. Even though it is set in, ummm, Russia. This is rather off-putting as a result and prevents us from further identifying with the individuals. Now, I can understand Stalin having an accent; as a Georgian, his Russian was thick, guttural and hesitant. To others who embodied the outsider. But why on earth does everyone put on mock-Russian accents? I was rather put off by the stock footage from Eisenstein and theft of Prokofiev's score for Alexander Nevsky at the beginning; it appeared neither as homage nor even acknowledgement to greater talents which the workmanlike music arrangement and film direction paled against. The characters themselves are two-dimensional at best- mere brush strokes although I couldn't have expected more from an American production for people for whom Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin mean nothing. But it's hard to see how such people could inspire a revolution. Lenin is presented in an understated way which is appropriate I think, but few would recognise Trotsky apart from his diffident arrogance and facial hair. His dragging off to Alma Alta was, like much shown in the film, poetic licence. I won't even go on about why Molotov's portrayal is an historic injustice (a scrawny nothing referred to in the film not as "Iron Arse" but rather "Iron Pants") or how Voroshilov's public denouncing of Stalin's actions to his face is absolutely ludicrous- the man widely-acclaimed as stupidest man in the whole Soviet Republic who facilitated the purge of the Red Army, accommodation with Hitler et cet. would not have survived Stalin to die in his sleep if that had been the case, and I can't fathom the reasons for it to have been put into the script except to have a "chorus" to reiterate the obvious to us. This is just my own opinion- after all, I think the two-part "Hitler: Rise of Evil" is a great introduction for students... I teach Soviet history in Communist China and ironically I have to use a proxy just to offer my thoughts as the ruling fascists have seen fit to block IMDb because it refers to a single film no-one has heard of. Check out my site www.tracesofevil.com for historic documents and resources pertaining to this aera!