This Russian film is an updated version of Bertold Brecht's stage play. Brecht's plays always highlight the intersection between politics and life as it is lived, and his play, The Career of Arturo Ui is no exception. The story is about Arturo Ui (Aleksandr Filipenko) and his progress from being a penniless unknown to becoming someone with totalitarian power. The model for Arturo was originally Hitler, but in this film parallels are also drawn to the rise of Stalin, and to the new socialists seeking power in post-Soviet Russia. Slogans from Russian political campaigns are used for this purpose to chilling effect. Often, as in this play, Brecht collaborated with Kurt Weill to bring music to his stylized dramas, and as a result many of his plays occupy an ill-defined territory somewhere between classical Greek drama and the contemporary stage musical. Here, that music is supplemented by contemporary Russian folk music. The film retains many stage values; most actors appear in very stylized makeup, and the film's settings are very limited and contained.
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