Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Following up on his shaded character study of Adolf Hitler in Moloch, acclaimed filmmaker Alexander Sokurov directs this companion piece -- the second in a planned trilogy -- based on the waning days of the life of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Set in 1923 in the newly created U.S.S.R., state founder Lenin (Leonid Mozgovoy) -- though he is never mentioned by name -- is convalescing from a stroke at age 51 in his dacha. Surrounded by watchful guards, a live-in doctor, his wife, and his sister, this formerly titanic figure lives as a virtual prisoner after the deterioration of his health. Unable to make contact with the outside world -- newspapers are forcibly removed and the phone lines cut -- Lenin spends much of his time puttering around in the garden or eating with his loyal wife. One day, Stalin (Sergei Razhuk) pays him a visit, even though Lenin isn't quite sure who the future tyrant is. He presents the sick man a walking stick, mentioning that he wanted it to be engraved but Trotsky vetoed the idea. After the visit, Lenin becomes upset that he is living in luxury while his countrymen are starving. This film was screened in competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.