The Death of Stalin

Black comedy doesn’t get any blacker than The Death of Stalin, which mines laughs from one of the most brutal and frightening regimes in modern history. Adapting a graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, British writer and director Armando Iannucci dramatizes the night in March 1953 when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin—who had killed 20 million people, sent 18 million to the gulags as slave labor, and exiled ten million more—keeled over of a cerebral hemorrhage, his subsequent death setting off a power struggle between the Communist Party, led by Nikita Khrushchev, and the state apparatus, led by Stalin’s first lieutenant and head of secret police, Lavrenti Beria. Seeing Kremlin historical figures played by such British and American comic actors as Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, and Michael Palin is a little weird at first, but Iannucci’s tasteless humor might be the only way to approach a subject so epic in its terror and tragedy. Continue reading>>