Henry and Kristl trembled before Stalin (1992)

“This Stalin was not a very nice dude.”  Henry remarked. He was having a bud, because he always had budweiser in his fridge, which was  a huge red contraption from the firm Northstar that was a remake of those older refrigerators from the fifties.

Kristl might have also had a bud, but then she felt that the west was already over Americanized, so instead she drunk triple X.

“Why on earth would you drink an Australian beer as a German?” Henry had remarked, when Kristl ordered the six pack via the internet.

“Austrian.” Kristl corrected.

“Eh.. Triple X is Australian. Oh wait. Sorry. You meant you are Austrian.” he grinned, “Don’t they have Ger.. eh. Austrian beers?”

“Yes, but I like Triple X.” Kristl had said.

“No, he wasn’t even though the movie is more focused on his private life than I would have expected. It seems to sort of make him look more favorable than I imagine him to be, but even then he remains a scary individual. The way he can be very jolly with you and then suddenly have you ordered to death. Like that moment when one of his old friends is about to be arrested by secret police and Stalin ‘happens’ to call at that very moment and orders them to leave.The sadist laughs at it. It just pictures him as madman.”

“Yeah. I think everyone he knew ended up dead eventually. And when he tosses his burning cigar down his wives shirt: what a nasty thing to do. ”

“There a lot of things that they had to skip it seems. Like there is a part missing at the beginning of World War II where the Sovjet-Union invade Finland, had a kind of shadow war with the Japanese and signed a pact with Hitler that gave him control over the baltic nations and the eastern part of Poland. Also skipped is the part where a thousands of polish officers were massacred on his order. The list could be extended. Like the way the west tried to dispose of the communist regime at the end of the first world war. Like in the twenties there was a kind of alliance with Germany. Or the Ukrainian uprising at the end of the Second World War. All things that must have influenced this man and his decisions. “


“The pity with this movie is that you somehow does not get to grips with the person of Stalin.. Even though Stalin is the subject of the movie, it feels like you are watching him from the outside, but never get in his inside.Never find his motivation or his side of the story.  In that I find the move somewhat sterile. You never get to know what moved this man and what possessed him. Why he did those things?“

“I think that might be because of the makeup. It looks like Duvalls is wearing a mask. His facial expression is almost non-existent.”

“I like Robert Duvall, he is a good actor, but they hamstrung him with that mask and thus the movie suffers. You are watching a statue.Still even then Duvall is marvelous because he tries to invoke emotions with that part of his face that is not cloaked with wax.”

“Yeah, I am left with the feeling that Stalin was a homicidal nutcase surrounded by nutcases, most of whom were as Homicidal as he was..” Henry said.

“And it leaves me with questions. Like how can a nutcase rule a big country like that for decades on end. It seems to beyond belief. Too simple an explanation to assume he is just a nutcase.”

“Also the movie suffers a bit because his wife  kills herself halfway. Basically the story is told by following her and then she dies  and that leaves the story suddenly without a focus and it never gets a focus again even though the story is told by his daughter..”

Kristl nodded.

“So leaves you a bit unfulfilled?”


“That is why we have beer.” Henry grinned and he opened another bud.

“Oh, to get fulfilled?” Kristl said.

“Yes and to forget we are not.” Henry burped.

“And forget about him.”

“That too.”


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