Absorbing & Provocative Depiction Of Russian Revolution
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 11/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those of us who appreciate movies that both entertain and educate, Warren Beatty's vastly underrated magnum opus "Reds" is a wonderful example of how well the two can be combined. Although it did not succeed at the box office, this magnificent spectacle concerning the involvement of an American socialist reporter in the Bolshevik revolution is a terrific movie, and also features Warren Beatty in the pivotal role of John Reed, an American journalist covering Soviet affairs for a progressive American socialist journal called "The Masses" who found his way into a series of important roles in the Soviet revolution and the regime that followed. Also found here is a especially memorable performance by Diane Keaton as the companion, love interest and protégé of Reed's who also served in a variety of roles in the new communist regime shortly after the revolution. This movie is largely based on Reed's moving autobiographical portrait of his personal experiences during the October revolution in his best selling book "Ten Days That Shook The World". The movie opens by exploring Reed's relationship with Keaton's early feminist character, and chronicles their growth and evolution toward a socialist perspective and an eventual commitment to political journalism that took them to the streets of Moscow in the days just preceding the October revolution. Also prominently featured in the movie is Jack Nicholson as Reed's intellectual friend, novelist and playwright Eugene O'Neil. This is a quite entertaining, sophisticated, and historically accurate effort to show America's own flirtation with unionism, socialism and communism and the reaction of more conservative forces within the business and civic community. The exploration of lifestyles and constant questioning of tradition and conformity make this a terrific teaching tool by showing how critically we can look at the lessons of history. Enjoy!"
A personal epic
Arnie Bernstein | Chicago, IL USA | 03/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warren Beatty pulls off a difficult task in "Reds." He's got to juggle several epic stories, including the rise of the American left in the early 20th century, the Russian Revolution, and a personal story of two romantics in a relationship charged by passion both emotional and political.Any of these story threads presents a difficult task for a filmmaker and Beatty weaves his multilayered tale together with skill. He pays close attention to detail, gives us a multitude of historical characters and events, and mixes his story telling with the words of real people. Beatty buttresses his scenes with deceptively simple "talking heads." These "witnesses" provide a real background to the John Reed/Louise Bryant story of "Reds," giving viewers a good grounding in the passions of the era. The attention to little details (Reed bringing Bryant lilies, the constant phrase "There's a taxi waiting," etc.) provide a rich portrait of two volatile human beings. Beyond the personal, Beatty knows how to handle epic screen drama. The rousing montage that leads up to the overthrow of Russian government is sumptuous and envigorating. Don't be deceived thought; this is not a "pro-Bolshevik" film by any great stretch of the imagination. Reed's dissillusionment with the Soviet system is portrayed in agonizing detail. Emma Goldman's story, a really great history in and of itself, gives another point of view to the difficulty passionate people have when taking on governing authorities and social mores.The performances are uniformally excellent. Beatty and Keaton are well matched and there's plenty of gems in the supporting roles. Standouts include Jack Nicholson as Eugene O'Neil, Maureen Stapelton as Emma Goldman, Edward Herrmann as Max Eastman, writer Jerzy Kosinski as Soviet bureaucrat Grigory Zinoviev and Paul Sorvino as Louis Fraina.I love "Reds." It's one of my favorite films. Be forewarned, however, you could be lost and confused by the myrad of events in this film if you don't know much about political history of the radical left in early 20th Century America or the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath. On the other hand, if you're intrigued by the film you'll find yourself up to your eyeballs at the library reading about the true events and real people who inspired this film."
A conservative confesses to loving this movie
John R Newton | New Jersey | 10/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some films have a reputation for being overpraised, and as a result - paradoxically - they become underrated. This is one such film. Who cares that we now know communism failed in Russia? REDS is not meant to be a piece of Soviet apologism. It is about two people who take part in exciting and sweeping historical events. I certainly disagree with the politics of John Reed and Louise Bryant, but it doesn't matter. I envy the romanticism of the times they lived in (even if the romanticism isn't authentic), and that they were able to find, as one of the "witnesses" says at the end of the movie, "things worth living and worth dying for." The second half of the movie - where we see the price that must be paid for taking part in history - provides good dramatic balance to the more sentimental view of revolutionary politics we see in the first half. The cinematography is outstanding and the love theme by Stephen Sondheim is exquisite. As it is a film that should be seen on the big screen, I'm hoping that REDS will be re-released for its 20th anniversary in 2001."
Historical Love Story
Randy Keehn | Williston, ND United States | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched "Reds" the other night for the first time. I wondered how I may have perceived it had I seen it when it came out, a decade or so before the fall of the Soviet Union rather a a decade or so after it. I had to make a deal with myself; I was going to watch the movie and appreciate it as a movie rather than debate the merits of glorifying socialism. I must have succeeded in that approach because I gave the movie a 5 star rating. I felt an impressive aspect of "Reds" was the periodic inclusion of on-camera first person recollections. We saw the real witnesses of the persons, times, and events that we were watching. It certainly added credibility to what we were seeing unfold and it also added perspective. "Reds" is first and foremost a love story and the two lovers are (surprize!) Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton. I have to admit that the two of them did very good work. I have to give Beatty a good deal of credit for his role as director for which he, not surprizingly, won an Oscar. I'm sure that his hard work made it difficult to edit the film down to the normal two-hour feature film length. I'll admit that I watched the movie, on tape, over the course of three successive evenings but I don't think that I lost any appreciation of the film. I probably could have told you just what all could have been cut if I had watched it all in one sitting. I'll accept that some movies (and "Dr. Zhivago" comes to mind as a logical comparison) just need more time to tell a more expansive story.
Beatty plays Jack Reed who wrote "Ten Days that Shook the World" which did a lot of shaking of its' own when it came out. In pursuit of a combined socialist/journalist's dream, Reed found himself in Russia on the eve of the October Revolution. The scenes of that and other Russian events are quite impressive in "Reds". Long before we get to that point in time, we see a relationship develop between a class conscious writer and a wannabe class conscious writer. The emergence of love between the fighter of proletarian causes and the fighter of feminist causes makes for a different sort of love story. The expressed opinions don't always match up neatly with the heartfelt opinions. I give Beatty grudging praise for his ability and willingness to bring out this concept in "Reds" as well as his look at an imperfect political solution to a real social problem. While there is plenty of Leftist propaganda to duck, Jack Reed wasn't exactly going to morph into Ronald Reagan by the film's end. Yet Beatty allowed the passion of the Movement to come to life and the seeds of its' own destruction to also come to life in "Reds". The scene towards the end with Maureen Stapleton (another deserving Oscar-winner from "Reds") was brilliantly done with an economy of words that conveyed an abundance of nuance. Through it all is the oft-interrupted romance of Beatty and Keaton who seem to go to extremes in their seperations and reunions. I'm not sure I ever saw a "blockbuster" movie that was ever this passionate. The film's ability to maintain that passion over three houres is its' greatest strength"
"It's shocking that this isn't available on DVD, representing, as it does, perhaps Warren Beatty's greatest accomplishment as a filmmaker. This epic drama tells the story of John Reed, the only American buried in the Kremlin, and his enmeshment in the events surrounding the Bolshevik revolution...if it sounds like dry history, rest assured that it is far from...the film achieves a great balance between the historical context and the personal dramas of the characters' lives...and what great acting: Beatty gives one of his absolute best performances,and as for the rest of the cast including Diane Keaton, Paul Sorvino and Jack Nicholson (as playwright Eugene O'Neill), they are, without exception, magnicent...let's hope this makes it to DVD soon...epics like this are made for hi-def, big screen TVs!"