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Turmoil Around “The Death of Stalin”

The movie {The Death of Stalin} will not be released in Kazakhstan

Thursday 25 January 2018, by Nazar TAMASHEVSKA

MOSCOW (Vlast) — The Death of Stalin, a 2017 French-British political satire, will not be shown in Kazakhstan due to the fact that all cinemas refused it. The movie was programmed to start at the box office on Thursday, January 25.

Tuesday, on January 23, the Ministry of Culture of Russia withdrew the rental certificate from the The Death of Stalin, which was due on January 25. The lawyers of this organization came to the conclusion that the comic tape “does not bear any historical or cultural value and it desecrates Soviet symbols — anthem, orders and medals.”

The editorial board of Vlasti called to the distributor — the Russian company “Volga” – and asked whether the Kazakhstan audience will be able to watch the movie. The death of Stalin will not be rolled in Kazakhstan, because all the cinemas refused to take pictures, said the representative of Volga, Julia Fateeva.

According to Vlasti, the film was ready to roll on one movie channel and one multiplex, but they also changed their mind.

The Death of Stalin chronicles the Soviet power struggles occasioned by the death of Stalin in 1953. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name, translated from the French original La mort de Staline.

Nikolai Starikov, head of the Russian Great Fatherland Party, said the film was an "unfriendly act by the British intellectual class", and said it was very clear that the film was part of an “anti-Russian information war” aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin.

A number of commentators weighed in on the historical accuracy of The Death of Stalin. Historian Richard Overy noted in The Guardian that the film “is littered with historical errors”, which can be “viewed as cinematic licence”, but was most critical that the film did not appropriately honour Stalin’s victims. Director Iannucci stated that he “chose to tone down real-life absurdity” to make the work more believable.

Samuel Goff, at the Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Cambridge, cited several justifiable historical inaccuracies with the ranks and roles of Stalin’s inner circle, but found the film missed the overall point and was unable to locate any of the inherent humour contained in Stalinism.

In September 2017, the head of the Public Council of the Russian Ministry of Culture said the Russian authorities were considering a ban on the film, which, he alleged, could be part of a “western plot to destabilise Russia by causing rifts in society”. Prior to the film’s scheduled release on 25 January 2018 Russia’s Ministry of Culture withdrew the film’s distribution certificate on 23 January 2018 following a screening of the film, attended by film industry figures, State Duma (lower house of Parliament) MPs, representatives of the Russian Historical Society together with members of the Culture Ministry’s Public Board.

Russian Culture Ministry’s lawyers, such as the daughter of Marshal Zhukov, Era Zhukova, cinematographers Nikita Mikhalkov, Vladimir Bortko, Sergei Miroshnichenko, Igor Ugolnikov, Alexander Galibin, Head of the Russian State Historical Museum Alexey Levykin and others, petitioned Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky withdraw the film’s certification claiming that “the Death of Stalin is aimed at inciting hatred and enmity, violating the dignity of the Russian (Soviet) people, promoting ethnic and social inferiority, which points to the movie’s extremist nature. We are confident that the movie was made to distort our country’s past so that the thought of the 1950s Soviet Union makes people feel only terror and disgust.”

The authors also pointed out that the sounds of the National Anthem are accompanied with obscene expressions and offensive attitude, decorations are historically inaccurate, “and the release of the film on the eve of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad is a spit in the face of all those who died there, and all those who are still alive.”

However, The Death of Stalin received also critical acclaim. The review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 97% rating with an average score of 8.3/10 sampled from 60 reviews, saying:

The Death of Stalin finds director/co-writer Arnando Iannucci in riotous form, bringing his scabrous political humor to bear on a chapter in history with painfully timely parallels.

On Metacritic, the film has a score of 88 out of 100, calculated from 13 critics’ reviews, signifying “universal acclaim”.

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