The Death of Stalin Review

The Death of Stalin Review

Starring: Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, Simon Russell Beale, Paul Whitehouse, Jason Isaacs, Rupert Friend.

Director: Armando Iannucci

Release date: 20th October 2017


Moscow in 1953 is a terrible place. Stalin rules with a rod of iron and his enemies are being hunted down and shot. His cabinet is like a boys club. The story mainly begins with a piano recital, which ends with rapturous applause. A phone call comes in and it’s a request for a vinyl recording of the recital. The only problem is, the concert is over and it hasn’t been recorded. In a blind panic, the sound engineer runs out into the auditorium and tells everyone that they must start from the beginning because Stalin demands a recording. There is much confusion and eventually the recording is completed. The vinyl is delivered, but unfortunately there is a written note that has been stuck inside the sleeve, that will have severe ramifications. On receiving the record, Stalin finds the note and has a massive stroke. He collapses but unfortunately his guards have been instructed never to enter his office. He’s eventually found and his daughter and son are called for. A few days later, his death sends shockwaves out across Moscow and there is some extreme mourning. The General Secretary (Jeffrey Tambor) steps up as leader and it soon becomes apparent that there is more going on behind the scenes than people are led to believe. What repercussions will occur now that their esteemed leader is dead?

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This movie was inspired by the Titan Comics graphic novel, ‘The Death of Stalin’, by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin which was released in 2016/ 2017. It is based on actual true events and this makes it all that bit more bizarre a story. Add in Armando Iannucci as Writer and Director and you have farcical comedy gold. Probably best known for ‘In The Loop’, ‘Veep’ and ‘The Thick Of It’, Armando Iannucci is a master of his craft. He shows us how politics can indeed be a laughable and comedic subject whilst still studying the heart of the matter. It’s not all jokes though, as we also witness the harsh reality, that people were being murdered during this state of unrest purely for their beliefs and religions. Very much a satirical piece but still with those horrifying undertones of what life was like under Stalin’s rule.

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I’m a huge fan of Armando Iannucci’s work and really love his movies and TV work. Satirism is still a big component of our daily lives, with differing views of the way that countries are led and governed. Everyone seems to have an opinion these days.

A really fantastic movie, with an absolutely stellar cast; Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Palin, Paddy Considine, Steve Buscemi, to name but a small handful. I really loved the whole ‘accent’ thing in the movie, which is that they all used their own accents throughout. Stalin talking like a cockney was just inspired.

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Definitely one to watch on the big screen, ‘The Death Of Stalin’ is comedy gold. Bordering on the farcical for a good chunk of the movie, it gives us a glimpse into what life must have been like back then. Some sobering scenes where you see people being taken to be executed and also being torn from their families, is quite tough to watch. If you, like me, love Armando Iannucci’s work, then you won’t be disappointed when you watch this. Go see it and be hugely entertained.


Overall: 8.5/10






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