Four extraordinary days unfold in the life of academic Fluke Kelso (Daniel Craig) after his fateful meeting with a former Stalinist bodyguard, Papu Rapava (Valery Chernvak), which leads to the uncovering of one of the world's most dangerous and best kept secrets. Rapava hopes to profit from the secret to help his estranged prostitute daughter, Zinaida (Yekaterina Rednikova). Kelso, hoping to gain academic fame, is led unwittingly through murder and intrigue, and the frozen northern town of Archangel, towards his own personal Holy Grail - Joseph Stalin's secret legacy - a legacy that could change the face of Russian history forever.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A positively gripping work which never lets up the tension and the intrigue, with great performances and touches of wry humour. And a sensational subject.
In Moscow on March 2, 1953, Soviet Communist Party boss Josef Stalin died, ending an era in Soviet history that for some represents the worst and for others the best in the country's history. Acclaimed author Robert Harris takes this as his starting point for another of his historical fictions, built on a great deal of fact. One of my favourite authors in this genre (read his Pompeii or Imperium or Fatherland), this Harris best seller is adapted by two of Britain's most accomplished writers, the team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. This writing powerhouse alone is reason to watch Archangel, with Daniel Craig another. Craig plays an academic who stumbles on an old man with a long memory and a big secret.
Jon Jones directs with economical flair, pushing the story along without forgetting to give us well formed characters. He is well assisted by composer Rob Lane, whose excellent score is a great propeller to the action as well as a sensitive reflection of the emotional world that is opened up by Kelso's search for Stalin's secret diary.
That world includes a young Russian woman, Anna (Anna Gerasimova), who was one of several selected at one of the many Moscow parades, to spend a year as an intern in Moscow, with the great leader (Avtandil Makharadze) himself. Her diary is one of the first items Kelso discovers, with the help of Zinaida (Yekaterina Rednikova), the daughter of former Stalinist bodyguard, Papu Rapava (Valery Chernvak). It leads them to Anna's home town of Archangel, where they uncover more and more mysteries. Including the existence of a young man who could change history.
Published May 14, 2009
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ARCHANGEL: DVD (M)
CAST: Daniel Craig, Yekaterina Rednikova, Gabriel Macht, Lev Prygunov, Alexey Diakov, Harry Ditson, Tanya Moodie, Avtandil Makharadze, Anna Gerasimova, Claudia Harrison
PRODUCER: Christopher Hall
DIRECTOR: Jon Jones
SCRIPT: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais (novel by Robert Harris)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chris Seager
EDITOR: Sue Wyatt
MUSIC: Rob Lane
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Pickwoad
RUNNING TIME: 131 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 2.0 [presented in 3 episodes]
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay
DVD RELEASE: September 10, 2008