James Norton stars as Welsh journalist Gareth Jones whose 1930s visit to Soviet Ukraine uncovered the truth of Stalin’s state-sponsored famine and reputedly inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Dir Agnieszka Holland
Prod Klaudia Smieja, Andrea Chalupa, Stanislaw Dziedzic
Scr Andrea Chalupa
With James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard
Sales WestEnd Films
With partial English subtitles (some scenes are not in the English language)
Agnieszka Holland’s latest film introduces us to the world of foreign journalists in Moscow during the 1930s. There’s Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard), chief correspondent for the New York Times and controversial apologist for Stalin’s policies, and Gareth Jones (a superb James Norton), whose short career had already seen him advise Prime Minister David Lloyd George. He became one of the few journalists of his time to expose Stalin’s despotic nature. As scripted by Orwell authority Andrea Chalupa, the film throws startling and horrific light on Stalin’s brutal treatment of the agrarian class. Holland, whose career has flourished in both cinema and television, directs with real passion and commitment. And Jones’ struggle to reveal unpalatable truths to a world unwilling to confront an inconvenient political reality has uncomfortable contemporary parallels.