Reds (1981)

Genres - Epic, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Historical Epic, Romantic Epic  |   Run Time - 194 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

An achievement in epic storytelling and historical romance, Warren Beatty's Reds (1981) combines American Communist John Reed's experience of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath with the intimate relationship between Reed and Louise Bryant, his match in progressive thinking. Structured through the reminiscences of two dozen actual witnesses, from Henry Miller to George Jessel, the film meticulously recreates the culturally volatile World War I period, from the bourgeois Portland abandoned by Diane Keaton's Louise to the passionate Greenwich Village bohemia of Beatty's Reed, Maureen Stapleton's no-nonsense Emma Goldman, and Jack Nicholson's cynically romantic Eugene O'Neill. Reed's final reunion with lover/comrade Bryant poignantly reveals the personal cost of his political beliefs. Praised as an impressive accomplishment, regardless of its historical liberties, Reds earned 12 Oscar nominations, including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson, and four for Beatty as producer, director, actor, and co-writer. One of the last vestiges of artistically ambitious 1970s "auteur" Hollywood, Reds won Oscars for Vittorio Storaro's cinematography, Stapleton's supporting performance, and Beatty's direction, but it lost Best Picture to Chariots of Fire.