Movie of the Week: Reds (1981)

Warren Beatty directs himself, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in this epic biopic of John Reed, the socialist American journalist who covered the Russian Revolution in his seminal book “10 Days That Shook The World.”

A something for everyone movie. If you’ve come for romance then you get two for the price of one. Beatty and Keaton have great chemistry as an on-off couple who want to stake out their place in history. Then you get a side affair with Jack Nicholson’s fatalist romantic Eugene O’Neill. In just a handful of scenes Nicholson does his career best work as the famous playwright. Want historical sweep? Well then Beatty matches Lean in his globetrotting romance. There’s a wonderful shot of reindeer tearing through a snowy forest like lava from a volcanic eruption. Antique trains cross just tamed continents. Beatty and Keaton find themselves dwarfed by the tide of history. Are you left leaning? Then get ready for the giddy excitement of standing up for the working man and calling each other comrade. More right leaning? Watch the communist dream fall apart within a void of Kafka-esque bureaucracy and Python-esque factionalism. Historian?… Marvel at the talking heads reminisces of those who were actually there. Reds has the feel of ghosts narrating history, misremembered gossip becoming legend. It is a fine BIG MOVIE, one that demands return visits.

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