A surprising entry to the flurry of caped reimagined supermen of the comic book movie is a humble, bleak comedy featuring the likes of Star Trek Discovery‘s Jason Isaacs and Arrested Development‘s Jeffrey Tambor. What are we talking about? The historic-inspired comedy that is The Death Of Stalin. Which really points a finger to exactly how fucked up Russia’s politics and history really is. If you thought the reign of Stalin was a horrible blight on the world as a whole, then you may want to consider the vacuum that occurs when he’s kicked the proverbial shit bucket. And the comic film of the prolific Titan Comics graphic novel does just that.
The Death Of Stalin begins and ends in high culture – a symphony orchestra playing sweet music. But when Stalin demands a vinyl copy of the night’s symphony, everything seems to go downhill. It is at this stage we see the type of man Stalin is and the country he’s running. And in a single phrase, it’s all batshit crazy. Every citizen is afraid of him. Why? Well, for one, the guy has as much kill-lists as I have to-do list. Updated regularly, filled with names of anyone that would have the slightest reprieve against the kakistocracy. Then there is the whole secret police, death squads, assassinations and the occasional sycophancy. Which is all absolutely fucking absurd. But you want to know what’s more absurd? The events after Stalin dies the banalest of natural deaths.
Leaving a vacuum of power, everyone who licked the boot heel of the tyrant suddenly seen clamoring claim the sword of Damocles whilst trying to show compassion for their fallen leader. Who comes out on top is anyone’s guess. Or you could just pick up a history book on Soviet politics.
There is a lot to be said about humour. Or at the very least, one’s affinities to certain brands of humour. If you’re all about the slapstick, then you’ll probably want to miss this. But if you are a fan of seminal shows like The Office or, more so Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm, this off-brand humour is right up your seedy alley with great performances all-round. Seeing Rupert Friend’s deny a plane crash killed the entire national ice hockey team because “Soviet planes don’t crash”, but desperately trying to get some amateurs to get ready for an international game to replace the dead players that may or may not have died in a plane crash… fucking comedy gold. The pace us a steady one, but definitely chuckle-worthy. But even with the humour we don’t lose the sense of exactly how absurd and diabolical the events before and after Stalin’s death really was. From the bribery to the assassinations to the blackmail, The Death Of Stalin somehow manages to extract humour from an otherwise disturbing period in history.
David Cameron stated that The Death Of Stalin hit close to home in terms of the political climate in the UK’s Conservative party presumably before he ducked out of the Prime Minister seat after Brexit.
The mealy-mouthed cunt. Well, that statement goes to show the proletariat means little to these government types. Just a lot of type-A personalities shafting each other and trying to keep smiling while they give and receive.
The Death of Stalin is a good example of the type of humour that has propelled series like Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Quirky, sarcastic, off-beat comedy that understandably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And there are moments where scenes felt to drag on, but oddly you never felt a joke dragged on for too long. Except for the discovery of dead Stalin and people kneeling in his urine in the piss-soaked carpet. We get it. In any case, it was a decent outing for the Titan Comics’ graphic novel film.