The Gift to Stalin

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60%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 5

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 101
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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.

Cast

Critic Reviews for The Gift to Stalin

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (2)

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

    March 18, 2011 | Rating: 4/5
  • It's worth seeing if only as an antidote to the simplistic vision of Kazakhstan presented by Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat.

    March 18, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Alternating between impressive and pedestrian shot-making, professional and amateurish acting, the film aims for gravitas and entertainment but only occasionally achieves either.

    March 15, 2011 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    March 20, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    March 19, 2011 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Gift to Stalin

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