The Gift to Stalin (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Gift to Stalin (2011)

The Gift to Stalin




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Movie Info

A child who has seen some of the best and worst of the world around him wants a great man to answer some questions in this period drama with deeply tragic overtones. In 1949, Sashka (Dalen Shintemirov) is an eight-year-old Jewish boy from Kazakhstan. Near the outset of the film he gets deported to the Kazakh steppes with his grandfather, with the old man dies, prayer book in hand - meaning that the chances of the boy being reunited with his missing parents are slim at best. En route, matters grow worse when Sashka falls ill, and gets accidentally dumped in with the bodies of his fellow passengers who didn't survive the voyage. His fate appears to be sealed, but at the last minute, he's quietly rescued by a one-eyed railroad switch worker, Kasym (Nurjuman Ikhtimbayev), who has been assigned to transport the bodies of the dead. Kasym takes the boy to a local shaman who restores the child's strength and renames him Sabyr (meaning "humble"); Kasym and Sabyr then move to a dusty village where the boy comes of age. As Sashka makes friends with wild-eyed local kids who live to play pranks on others, he sees a newspaper story about a nationwide contest to find the perfect birthday present for Joseph Stalin, and the boy wracks his brain to come up with the winning entry and get the special prize, a meeting with the Soviet leader. Pokarok Stalinu (aka The Gift To Stalin) was directed by Rustem Abdrashev, who also works under the name Rustem Abdrashitov. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
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Critic Reviews for The Gift to Stalin

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (3)

Immersed in the alien beauty of the Kazakh steppe, "The Gift to Stalin" moves slowly but engages thoroughly.

Full Review… | March 18, 2011
New York Times
Top Critic

It's worth seeing if only as an antidote to the simplistic vision of Kazakhstan presented by Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat.

Full Review… | March 18, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

Alternating between impressive and pedestrian shot-making, professional and amateurish acting, the film aims for gravitas and entertainment but only occasionally achieves either.

Full Review… | March 15, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

That rare small story set in a big time (not unlike Malick's Days of Heaven), poetic both in Khasanbek Kydyraliev's cinematography and in Pavel Finn's script.

Full Review… | March 20, 2011
Slant Magazine

Charming story of finding love and humanity emerges among a motley crew not frequently seen in films about the Soviet Union under Stalin in Kazakhstan.

Full Review… | March 19, 2011

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