Stalin's Psychiatrist - Joseph Stalin
An historically-based, comedo-drama about Stalin during an intense, hallucination-enriched nervous breakdown initiated by the unexpected Nazi attack on Russia. 1941- Russia in Deadly Peril - will one man have the courage to save millions from death and destruction? Experience the true face of the feared Soviet leader in the face of Hitler's surprise attack on Russia. Russia - 1941. Joseph Stalin has taken Marx and Lenin's vision of a Soviet Worker's Paradise and turned it into a nightmare in which nothing happens unless he gives his personal approval, with horrible consequences for anyone who disobeys or takes any individual initiative. 'Uncle Joe' is confident that Hitler, with whom he has signed a non-aggression pact, will never attack the Soviet Union, but trusted 'friend' Adolf does. The already-struggling Russian people desperately need a leader to mobilize them to stop the Blitzkreig. "Comrade Stalin will know what to do," the generals who survived the Stalinist purges say, and believe. But the 'man of steel' has locked himself inside his private chambers, having a full scale nervous breakdown infused with terror, laced with dwindling self-esteem and generously seasoned with paranoia while being visited by vengeful ghosts from his past. Most prominently present is a Jewish American ex-patriot psychiatrist (Elena) who once admired and loved, Comrade Stalin, She takes it upon herself to whip him back into shape and, if possible, to infuse some humanity into him, while at the same time keeping her real identity and hidden agenda from being revealed. Sensuous and smart Doctor Elena must find a way to untangle Stalin's mind and penetrate his cold heart before it's too late to save Russia. Joseph Stalin (1878 - 1953) was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. Stalin launched a command economy - a period of rapid industrialization and economic collectivization. The upheaval in the agricultural sector disrupted food production, resulting in widespread famine, such as the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932-1933. During the late 1930s, Stalin launched the Great Purge (also known as the "Great Terror"), a campaign to purge the Communist Party of people accused of sabotage, terrorism, or treachery. Stalin was one of the most brutal leaders in is responsible for the deaths of millions, yet millions more revere him as a true leader of the Soviet State in its time of need.
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More importantly, the film's two basic premises are also questionable at best, i.e. that 1) Stalin suffered some sort of mental or nervous breakdown as a result of the Nazi invasion; and 2) that he received psychiatric help during that period to get him up and running again. As to the first premise, the available evidence appears to be ambiguous. Wikipedia's biographic article on Stalin states that "[a]ccounts by Nikita Khrushchev and Anastas Mikoyan claim that, after the invasion, Stalin retreated to his dacha in despair for several days and did not participate in leadership decisions. However, some documentary evidence of orders given by Stalin contradicts these accounts, leading some historians to speculate that Khrushchev's account is inaccurate." (Footnotes omitted.) I'm no expert on the activities of Politburo members during the first few weeks of the war, but it seems to me that if Stalin did in fact go into isolation, neither Mikoyan, Khruschev nor anyone else in the Politburo had any, or an adequate, opportunity to observe his demeanor. Moreover, given that Khruschev denounced Stalin in the 1956 "Secret Speech", he had a motive to further defame Stalin by claiming that he was not active at the beginning of the war, making that claim suspect. I'm not saying that Stalin wasn't shocked by the invasion; he almost certainly was, given that he had been in denial about the pre-invasion Nazi troop buildup, ignoring warnings about it from several sources. However, it would be quite another matter to say that the the invasion caused him to experience a break making him even more psychotic than he already was and completely incapacitating him.
I also find the idea that Stalin received psychiatric therapy at the beginning of the war suspect, for two reasons. First, although again I'm no expert on psychiatric treatment practices and standards in the Soviet Union in 1941, I very much suspect that Soviet ideology at that time would not have approved of Freudian "talking cure" therapy, given that Freud based his theory of human motivation on something other than Marxist-Leninist materialism (money), i.e. sex.
Second, it cannot be said too much that Stalin was a monster whom virtually everybody in the Soviet Union feared. If anybody in the Politburo thought Stalin had had some sort of breakdown and needed psychiatric help, the suspecting member/s would not have dared suggest it to him directly and earn a trip to the Gulag or, more likely, a death sentence. There'd have to be stronger evidence of mental incapacity than what was available to risk doing anything about it.
The saying "If you shoot at the king, you'd better kill him" therefore applies here. Assuming for the sake of discussion that 1) the invasion incapacitated Stalin; and 2) one or more Politburo members had enough opportunity to observe Stalin to suspect mental incapacity, why would the Politburo have opted for an open-ended series of therapy sessions? It didn't have the time; the country was in imminent danger of defeat and occupation. As a matter of the Politburo's members saving themselves from the Nazis if nothing else, why not instead seize the opportunity to stage a coup and kill Stalin? It's far more likely that somebody in the Politburo, possibly Lavrenti Beria, would have done so under cover of a secret diagnosis from a psychiatrist that Stalin was incapacitated. Long-term involuntary therapy, or even institutionalizing him while denying him treatment, wouldn't have been practical; too many medical personnel and Politburo members would have known about Stalin's condition, making the latter group's real or imagined fear of a demoralizing leak too great. It's more probable that the coup leader/s would have shot Stalin secretly, shot the diagnosing psychiatrist and the executioner/s to shut them up, and given the world some bogus explanation that Nazi agents or counter-revolutionaries had killed Stalin, making him a martyr to Communism. (Remember the end of John Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle? "'Comrades! He didn't want nothing for himself --.'")
The only reason I give this movie two stars instead of one is that the premise of psychiatric treatment provides an opportunity to examine the possible influences in Stalin's childhood and youth that made him what he became. I'll leave it to someone else more qualified than me to qualify on that subject.