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First Circle
First Circle
Actors: Robert Powell, Victor Garber, Dominic Raacke, GŁnther Maria Halmer, F. Murray Abraham
Director: Sheldon Larry
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     3hr 0min

DECEMBER 1949. — Joseph Stalin rules Russia through a brutal regime of terror and systematized torture. Inside Mavrino Prison, the first circle of penal hell in Stalin?s Russia, the inmates ? physicists, mathematicians, e...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Robert Powell, Victor Garber, Dominic Raacke, GŁnther Maria Halmer, F. Murray Abraham
Director: Sheldon Larry
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 12/06/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/1991
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1991
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 3hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

No Happy Endings in Stalin's Hellish World
givbatam3 | REHOVOT Israel | 08/18/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This film is based on Alexander Solzhenitsyn's famous novel of the same title. It is based on the story of a special prison designed for scientists who would carry out research supported by the state in which the conditions of incarceration were better than those in the hellish camps of the Gulag Archipelago. The father of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, worked in a prison laboratory like the one depicted here.
The story depicts the different types of people who are caught in Stalin's world-prisoners, NKVD warders and "investigators", the priviledged Communist Party elite and common people outside the prisons who are just trying to survive. Among the prisoners there is the type who is an enthusiastic supporter of Stalin (he believes that his imprisonment is simply "a mistake"), the idealist who will not compromise his values even if this endangers himself, opportunists who inform on their fellow inmates in order to improve their own situation, and those who debate whether it is moral to help the tyrranical regime in order to increase their chances of release.
The problem with this film is its uneven quality, on the one hand it was filmed in Moscow and the scenes showing the prisons, the shabby side streets and the official goverment offices (which have pictures and busts of Stalin in every scene) give the film a feeling of authenticity. The directing is sometimes outstanding, particularly in scenes involving the wife of Gleb the idealist getting her annual half-hour visit with her husband and one with Innokenty being interrogated by an NKVD man. On the other hand, there are scenes involving NKVD officers and high officials in which they are portrayed as comical buffons with scenes taken straight out of "The Three Stooges". Also there is a young woman character who is the daughter of an important Communist Party member who works as an NKVD clerk in the prison/laboratory. In reality, people from families in the priviledged "nomenklatura" would not have any contact with "zeks" (prisoners). These really lowered my estimation of the film. After all, no one would make a film showing Heinrich Himmler as a comical figure. I have concluded that Solzhenitsyn was not consulted on making the film and I believe that Russians (and not the Canadians and French who did this one) should make a film of this type in order to make it more authentic. People from Western countries who did not experience the horrors of Stalin's regime really can't convey to outsiders the full meaning of it. Having said this, the film is still quite useful in conveying at least part of the horrible reality that was Stalin's USSR. Don't expect any Western-style "happy endings" when you view this film."
"First Circle (1991) ... Joseph Stalin Rules Russia... Koch
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 01/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Koch Vision present "FIRST CIRCLE" (1991) (187 mins/Color) (Dolby Digital) --- Under Sheldon Larry (Director), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Author of Novel), Gabriel Yared (Film Score), Ron Orieux (Cinematographer), Serge Morache (assistant hair stylist), Stephen Benoit (assistant director), Leslie Grierson (third assistant director), Kim Karon (assistant art director), Sylvain Arseneault (boom operator), Luc Boudrias (sound re-recording mixer), Eric Rophe (sound), Raymond Vermette (dialogue editor), Mathieu Décary (first assistant camera), Jean-Yves Denis (grip), Stephen Benoit (assistant to director), Clifford De Spenser (dialogue coach) ------ the cast includes Robert Powell (Gleb Nershin), Victor Garber (Lew Rubin), Dominic Raacke (Nikolaj Schtschagow), Günther Maria Halmer (Wladimir Tschelnow), Christopher Plummer (Victor Abakumov), F. Murray Abraham (Staline), David Hemblen, David Hewlett ('Ruska' Rostislav), Heath Lamberts, Laurent Malet (Valadine Innokenti), Alexandra Stewart (Aletvina Makaraguine), Raf Vallone (Pyotr Makaraguine), Coraly Zahonero (Clara Makaraguine), Vernon Dobtcheff (Riyumin), Daniel Emilfork (Nikol), Corinne Touzet (Nadia Nerzhin), Robert Joy, Danute Kristo (Nina) ------ the story line takes place in a Soviet prison "Mavrino" December 1949, where a group of scientists work in this grim drama, one can interpret that the first circle includes not just the prison, but the whole uppercrust society of the Soviet Union, with Joseph Stalin as Satan overlooking his domain ... takes place in three days with interwoven characters that have struggling lives that will touch you in everyway ... surprise awaits the viewer as freedom is the price that is too high, even if betrayal is in the future ... one of the best adaptations of Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel under the direction of Sheldon Larry and outstanding performances by Robert Powell and supporting cast.

1. Robert Powell
Date of birth: 1 June 1944 - Salford, Manchester, England, UK
Date of death: Still Living

2. Victor Garber
Date of birth: 16 March 1949 - London, Ontario, Canada
Date of death: Still Living

3. F. Murray Abraham
Date of birth: 24 October 1939 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of death: Still Living

4. Christopher Plummer
Date of birth: 13 December 1929 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date of death: Still Living

5. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Author)
Date of birth: 11 December 1918 - Kislovodsk, Russia
Date of death: Still Living

Disc #1 -- First Circle
Play Part 1
Part 1 Scene Access
Play Part 2
Part 2 Scene Access
Play Part 3
Part 3 Scene Access

1. Cast and Credits
2. Actor Filmographies
3. F. Murray AbrahaM
4. Christopher Plummer
5. Robert Powell
6. Victor Garber
7. Solzhenitsyn and the First Circle
8. Weblink

Great job by Koch Vision for releasing "First Circle" (1991) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more high quality releases from the BBC mini-series film market...order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Vision where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch drama mixed with an outstanding cast and director --- just the way we like 'em

Total Time: 187 mins on DVD ~ Koch Vision KOCV6632 ~ (6/06/2005)"