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Stalin [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Duvall, Julia Ormond, Maximilian Schell, Jeroen Krabbé, Joan Plowright
  • Directors: Ivan Passer
  • Writers: Paul Monash
  • Producers: Donald L. West, Ilene Kahn Power, Leonid Vereshchagin, Mark Carliner, Pál Sándor
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302681634
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,188 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

"Stalin's rise from obscure revolutionary to feared leader of Russis is documented in vivid detail in this outstanding, critically acclaimed docudrama". Approximately 2 hours 57 minutes.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By givbatam3 on August 17, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
In the past, apologists for Stalin (including many of his victims) said that Stalin was good, but he was surrounded by bad people. This film turns this on its head saying that Stalin was bad, but he was surrounded by good people. Both of these are wrong--the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution and the leaders of the USSR in the period following the revolution were all up to their necks in blood. Robert Duvall gives an excellent portrayal of Stalin, emphasizing that he, unlike his ranting partner in mass murder Hitler, was soft-spoken and basically uncharismatic. Duvall correctly does not use a "Russian" accented English because Stalin spoke Russian with a heavy Georgian accent. Having said this, the historical aspects of the film are very poor. First of all, Maximilian Schell's portrayal of Lenin is way off base. The Old Bolsheviks like Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Ordzhonikidze and Kirov are shown to be basically well-meaning people who got trapped in Stalin's web. This is untrue, they were all involved in mass terror, justifying it in the name of a "higher good". In Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago", he points out what a pathetic man Bukharin really was and how he so freely shed tears for the injustice committed to his person, and yet he had no pity on the millions of others who suffered. At the end of the film, Khruschev says that Stalin's crimes ("the millions" he liquidated) had to be accounted for, whereas,in reality, he himself took an active role in the Great Terror.
The film shows very little of what the effect of "Stalinism" was on the average Soviet citizen, with the exception of a scene where Stalin's wife confronts the effects of the mass famine in the Ukraine. The film does not really show the "cult of the personality".
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I enjoyed this movie, and found it a very good portrayal of Stalin's reign, but some things bothered me; particularly, it seems to potray Lenin as sort of a "good guy" who lets a Revolutionary government on the right track fall into the hands of a madman. Since Lenin himself was a particularly vicious figure who killed more people in his brief rule than had been killed under the Czar in 40 years previous, I didn't think that was the right way to present him.
Even more importantly, though, they blow over the entire Great Patriotic War (i.e. World War II) in just a couple of scenes! I know the movie would have been very long if lots of extra scenes about the war were added, but I think a few other scenes from the movie could be cut to make room for arguably the most important part of Stalin's dictatorship. As it is, it goes from Stalin's cowardly reaction to the German invasion almost immediately to the end of the war.
Overall, though, don't let the criticisms above dissuade you from seeing it; the acting is excellent, and it shows quite well how rapidly post-revolutionary hopes were killed off under Stalin's madness. I especially liked the scene with the old woman chasing after the train yelling at Stalin's wife, trying to make sure the benevolent Stalin would learn about the starvation and brutality going on in the countryside and put a stop to it when in reality he was the very man who organized it. Nice....
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I have to agree with the viewer who wished more had been included about the great patriotic war. To cover the reign of Stalin in depth, however, would take a really good miniseries along the lines of "Roots". If you are looking for some insight as to the inner workings of Stalin's regime, this is a good beginning. If this had been a theatrical release, it would have been an Oscar contender. Yes, the accents get a little cheesy. Sometimes they sound more like Scottish than Russian. As for the "laughable" make up jobs referred to in other reviews, I challenge you to watch it while leafing through Richard King's "The Commissar Vanishes". Then you will see just how uncanny the likenesses are. (Except for Vorishlikov who sports a mustache in the movie, but not in official photos.) For the record, though, Lenin did have a "dome head"!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "mark17970" on February 7, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
I agree with Leaming. Any time Hollywood depicts history, there are going to be issues of inaccuracy, artistic license, etc. In the case of the film STALIN, this is mostly due to the need to compress about thirty years into less than three hours. The portrayals of the primary characters are sometimes simplistic and inaccurate, but Bukharin and Kirov's characters (for example) are portrayed so as to accentuate the perception of Stalin as a monster (which is accurate). In other words, the truth is adapted somewhat to generate a dramatic foil. Films are never a substitute for reading the real history, but I find that they often whet an appetite when one did not previously exist. The mini-series PETER THE GREAT with Maximilian Schell in the title role is another great example of a film that generated popular interest in Tsarist Russia. SHOGUN, ROUGH RIDERS, LAST SAMURAI, GLADIATOR, GODS AND GENERALS, SHARPE'S RIFLES -- all are examples of films that prompted people to actually read history. So, take the films for what they are -- all in all, everyone who loves history should encourage this terrific trend in film-making!
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WHY NOT ON DVD?
Awesome film, remember it from years ao. Duvall surprisinly good as Stalin. Why don't they at least put it on video on demand?
Nov 12, 2010 by Ben Seide |  See all 2 posts
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