Joseph Stalin is one of the most despicable human beings to have ever lived and was responsible for the murder and torture of countless lives. So it was with great curiosity I sat down to view the The Death of Stalin, a film billed as a political satire and named by one critic as “the funniest British film in years.”
In some ways, it was funny. The script was peppered with acerbic quips and had an almost slapstick approach to the action. The main cast were all seasoned actors and delivered masterful performances that lampooned the leaders of the old Soviet Union and showed them as hypocritical, bumbling, and ultimately cowardly.
But despite it’s comical aspects this film also showed the regime for what it really was – violent, corrupt, truly evil and run by sycophants and tyrants who terrorised millions of people and who eventually turned on one another. When Stalin died, anyone associated with him, including his old secretary, and his domestic servants was shot. What’s more, most of the soldiers and secret police who committed those murders were also shot.
The Soviet Union was a weirdly dystopian place and that came through strongly in The Death of Stalin.
Inevitably being a satire meant history was not perfectly recorded, but it did have enough of the horrific truth to make this much more than a mere comedy.
Ultimately I have to say that this film shocked me and I found the laughter from the audience jarring, even though the lines were genuinely funny.
Perhaps the genius of it though is that by claiming to be a parody it actually makes us think more about the revolting aspects of tyranny and reminds us that there are still regimes and leaders in the world doing exactly the same thing.
I’d recommend you seeing this movie, but it might not make you laugh.
In cinemas 15th March 2018
The Death of Stalin
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Adrea Riseborough, Jerrfry Tambor
Directed by: Armando Iannucci