The Death of Stalin – The Movie

One should try to be positive when writing a review, but it is going to be difficult with this movie by Armando Iannucci. Billed as a political satire comedy, how does anyone think they can write a comedy about a real life bunch of mass murderers.

The movie is loosely based on real events. The guards were under express orders not to enter Stalin’s bedroom without his permission, so no one dared enter until 10pm, many hours after he had retired to bed the previous night. Then it was seven hours before a doctor was called. Was it because no one was willing to make a decision, or they hoped that he would not survive, or was it because he had recently had all the best doctors arrested because he believed they were plotting to poison him? So it was an irony that there was no well qualified doctor to save his life! Beria’s execution did not happen quite as quickly as portrayed in the movie.

At this time Urszula was enduring eternal exile in the remote Siberian settlement of Long Bridge. She writes of Stalin’s death and how different people reacted, but then moves on …  “Eventually, in May [actually it was December, but it may have been difficult to check dates in the 1960s], completely unexpected news reached us that Beria had been arrested and swiftly executed as an enemy of the state. Previously unexplained enthusiasm and joy galvanised everyone, both free and prisoners, but not the NKVD. Observing them I noticed that they were frightened. Those who had behaved badly towards us … used to walk through the settlement with arrogance and conceit but now you could not see them anywhere.”

Banning the movie in Russia may increase the audience in The West and will certainly save the Russian public from a wasted evening. However let us not forget how Borat’s escapades led to the promotion of Kazakhstan!



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