Cataline Recommends: The Death of Stalin; A Comedy of Terrors

UPDATE: The Death of Stalin: A Comedy of Terrors, is now available on Netflix. If you still have a subscription use it for this. If you don’t then get the free trial.

-Originally published February of 2018.

A frighteningly stupid woman just became the most influential person in America.

Occasional-Cortex has published an insane list of Things-Princess-Wants-Now called the Green New Deal. Everyone on the Left is love with it without having read a single damn word of it and I’m not entirely sure AOC bothered to read it either.

Has-been (and soon to be has-been) celebutards were the first ones on board. This was understandable since they are just empty-headed attention whores who start to doubt their own existence if they don’t see their own tweets once every five minutes.

Equally brainless Journolisters joined the NPC hoard with equally mindless zombie fervor. This too isn’t all that worrying because not only are they just as stupid as the Hollywood Twitterisatas but they also have the attention span of a spastic gnat.

However, every declared Democrat who is running for president in two years also declared their unwavering support.

That is worrying.

Cory went full Spartacus, Princess Warren-Feather was near to weeping with joy and even Kameltoe joined in. I take some mild comfort in the fact that the only Democrat with a real shot at Trump (namely Biden) remained silent on the matter.

I’m sure the staff of the National Cuckshed and the Bulwank are trying to make unfunny jokes about it but the problem is, the Left ain’t joking.

Thirty years ago, they weren’t joking when they said they wanted women in combat, unisex restrooms, gay marriage, and post-birth abortion. That wish list is nearly complete.

They mean every word of the Green New Deal. They will outlaw, nuclear energy, wood-burning fireplaces, the internal combustion engine and then genocide the entire domestic bovine species in the name of stopping cow farts. These aren’t passing fancies. These are now their objectives.

Their motte and bailey will expand to encompass all of these things if we don’t fight them tooth and nail.

The Left never jokes about what they want. Take a look at the history of Russia or rather the Soviet Union and you’ll see where they will lead us if they get their chance.

And for a quick look at the world that AOC would create allow me to recommend to you…

The Death of Stalin: A Comedy of Terrors.

The film opens in 1953 on the last night of the most evil man in history. Historical illiterates will try to hand that laurel to Hitler but old Adolph was a piker compared to Stalin. He slaughtered (possibly) forty million of his citizens and made them love him for it.

The surprising thing about this movie is just how much of the history they got right. The characters are being painted with broad strokes but they are accurate caricatures. Stalin is having one of his drunken dinner parties with his inner circle, the Politburo. Malenkov, so obviously harmless that he was the only one Stalin could trust as his heir-apparent. The buffoonish Kruschev is making jokes. Molotov is laughing along with everyone else, not knowing that his name is on Tonight’s List. That list had been quietly curated by the second scariest man in the room, Beria.

At one in the morning, the drunken party is about to break up when Stalin decides he wants to watch a John Ford Western. They all stay for the cowboy movie.

In the meantime, the NKVD is pounding on doors all over Moscow, as the names on the list are pulled from their family’s terrified arms and thrown on the bus.

How do you make a comedy about this stuff?

Well, if you are Armando Iannucci the answer is brilliantly…and blackly. This is possibly the darkest comedy I’ve ever seen. I suppose because the subject matter is so dark.

The opening act shows a slice of daily life in Moscow under Stalin’s regime. Everyone is terrified in a world where “no one is safe because no one is guilty.” Stalin has an entire empire in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome. This demonstrated at NKVD headquarters, while Beria is walking and talking with a subordinate, the muffled loyal cries of “long live Stalin,” are repeatedly heard and then followed by a single pistol shot. This happens constantly and with very effective comedic timing.

An entire concert has to be restaged with an audience pretty much literally dragged off the street because Stalin wants a recording of tonight’s broadcast and unfortunately it went out live.

An old man is seen telling his wife, “I love you, tell them anything. Tell them what they want to hear. I love you!” When he hears the pounding on his door in the middle of the night. Although in his case, they just needed a conductor for the aforementioned concert. So all good.

You really get the atmosphere. A l’air du temps that smelled of constant dread, overlain with incessant praise for the man that has created this nightmare. The horror is mixed with humor through out.  

Then the great beast collapses and his minions gather to divide the spoils. This was compressed for time. It took Stalin a few days to kick the bucket but here he croaks the next day. As I said earlier, broad strokes.

Beria, the head of the NKVD looks to be the odds on favorite to succeed Stalin. Technically it’s Malenkov but no one thinks it’s a long term thing.

Kruschev is at the bottom of the list of potential successors but he has a falling out with Beria which makes him the worst life insurance risk on the Politburo. Everyone is terrified of Beria. However, he doesn’t have the kind of hold over them that Stalin did. A coup is Kruschev’s only hope for survival.

If any of that was a spoiler then read a damn history book.

The genre of this film is “The Fool Triumphant”. The seemingly harmless man faces a much great adversary.

“The “Fool” is an important character in myth and legend and has been forever. On the outside, he’s just the Village Idiot, but further examination reveals him to be the wisest among us. Being such an underdog gives the Fool the advantage of anonymity, and also makes everyone underestimate his ability, allowing him or her the chance to ultimately shine. —Blake Snyder. Save the Cat.”

The story arc is Khrushchev starting as the Kremlin Clown. He is seen as offering friendly and life-saving advice to Malenkov, “have your wife write down everything you say when you get home. That way (when you have sobered up in the morning) you know what you are dealing with. That’s Khrushchev’s, Golden Rule.” No one took him seriously because you couldn’t take him seriously. He was just Stalin’s buffoon, the clown that made him laugh at his parties. However, by the end of the story, the rest of the Politburo is clearly starting to step aside to let him take the lead. As Stalin’s daughter Svetlana put it, “I never thought it would be you, Nicky.”

On to the performances. Honestly, Steve Buschemi would have been my last choice to play Kruschev but there is no getting around it, the man absolutely nailed it. This is probably the performance of his career.

Simon Russel Beale was unquestionably reptilian as the sadistically psychopathic and sexually predatory Beria. Everything he said dripped menace. Probably his best line was when he was suddenly nose to nose with the doctor and said, “don’t worry, I’m not going to kiss you.”

Michael Palin was a decent choice for Molotov. Not that he delivered a great performance but because he always brings a Pythonesque air to anything he touches. And that worked here in this very dark comedy.

However, the absolute show-stealer was Jason Isaacs as Zhukov. He devoured the scenery in huge gulps. The Northern Accent sold it.

The end of the story, you already know.

In case you are wondering why you never heard of this film? It had opened to critical acclaim in Europe (yes, I know but I think they were serious that time). It was released in the US but was completely swamped by Black Panthar. It was probably going to do okay on the home video market but then Jeffrey Tambor (Malenkov) got caught up in #MeToo and was unpersoned. The distribution was quietly dialed down and the producers couldn’t even get a Dropped-On-Netflix deal.

Ah well, once again life imitates art.

The bigger question here; is this a slice of history that will be repeated?

Before Trump, I would have said, yes. Today I’m quite a bit more hopeful.

Regardless, Cataline Recommends With Utmost Enthusiasm.

You can rent it on Amazon Video for $2.99. You probably can’t find it anyplace else.

10 thoughts on “Cataline Recommends: The Death of Stalin; A Comedy of Terrors

  1. Well you convinced me, the movie is one of the blackest, and funniest films I’ve seen. The literal race to Svetlana was a particular highlight.

    The constant lies that everyone is aware are lies, probably set off some SJWs to kill the movie, as they must have sensed they were being mocked.

    Like

    1. He was a scene stealer, from the moment he dramatically throws off his coat at the funeral and every scene he’s in. I was a little confused as to why he had a Northern English accent however.

      But for comedy gold Rubert Friend as Stalin’s idiot son Vasily was perfect. How often can you see a man ranting about New York Zionists in petticoats stealing Stalin’s brain and then watch him spit in his own face.

      Like

  2. I rewatched it, and it has held up. I found the closing credits with the choice of music and changing pictures with people disappearing and faces scratched out deeply sinister.

    Like

  3. Will those Millennials really watch the film?

    Nope. I think that Cataline was attempting a little dry humor, there.

    Like

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