- 2h 15m
The enigma of the personality cult is revealed in the grand spectacle of Joseph Stalin's funeral.The enigma of the personality cult is revealed in the grand spectacle of Joseph Stalin's funeral.The enigma of the personality cult is revealed in the grand spectacle of Joseph Stalin's funeral.
For "State Funeral" Loznitsa used archive material that was shot after the death of Stalin with the intention to make the propaganda movie "The great farewell". When Stalin fell into disgrace after a 1956 speech by Nikita Khrushchev, "The great farewell" was never finished and the archive material had to wait for a long time before being rediscovered by Sergey Loznitsa.
Loznitsa just edited the archive material. There is no voice over. Only in the end credits there is a little explanation. It is assumed that everybody knows Stalin and his crimes. In the film there are speeches of Gregory Malenkov and Lavrentyi Beria. At the time of their praise for Stalin these men were already in a fierce power struggle with Nikita Kruschev. If you want to know more about this power struggle, watch "The death of Stalin" (2017, Armando Iannucci).
In effect "State funeral" is not about Stalin but about a personality cult. Yes the film is long and many would say too long. But it is too long with a purpose. All those speeches throughout the vast Soviet Union, using the same vocabulary again and again, ultimately give the impression of some sort of religious liturgy.
Cinimatically speaking the film is much richer than the (lack of a) story suggests. In the use of faces Loznitsa proves to be a worthy successor to Sergey Eisenstein. The use of color (bright red flags against grey buildings) reminded me of "Raise the red lantern" (1991, Zhang Yimou). The image of a picture of Stalin floating through the air on a crane via "Good Bye Lenin" (2003, Wolfgang Becker, a statue of Lenin) ultimately leads back to "La dolce vita" (1960, Federico Fellini, a statue of Jesus Christ). A movie quote on the basis of a movie quote! All this together with beautiful (funeral)music from Schubert, Mozart, Mendelsohn, Chopin, Schumann and Tschaikovsky make "State funaral" to a unique viewing experience.
- Dec 28, 2021