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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's actually pretty good.
I read the novel and I loved it. But I was reluctant to buy the DVD because I didn't think it would be nearly as good. The book was a lot better but the movie was still very good. The other reviewer does make some good points, and I understand his complaints I just don't agree with them. They do change quite a lot in the movie but that's to be expected, and...
Published on 29 Jan 2006

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surely the novel can't be this ridiculously simplistic?
Robert Harris writes surprisingly good popular upmarket airport bestsellers aimed at Sunday Times and Guardian readers that once upon a time would have been made into self-important overproduced movie potboilers but now (Enigma aside) get made in to misfiring TV series instead (Fatherland, Selling Hitler). Latest failure is Archangel, a historical/political conspiracy...
Published on 25 Sep 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's actually pretty good., 29 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
I read the novel and I loved it. But I was reluctant to buy the DVD because I didn't think it would be nearly as good. The book was a lot better but the movie was still very good. The other reviewer does make some good points, and I understand his complaints I just don't agree with them. They do change quite a lot in the movie but that's to be expected, and I'll take any chance I get to watch Daniel Craig. The bottom line is this a pretty good adaptation of a very good novel. And It should entertain you for a little over 2 hours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surely the novel can't be this ridiculously simplistic?, 25 Sep 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
Robert Harris writes surprisingly good popular upmarket airport bestsellers aimed at Sunday Times and Guardian readers that once upon a time would have been made into self-important overproduced movie potboilers but now (Enigma aside) get made in to misfiring TV series instead (Fatherland, Selling Hitler). Latest failure is Archangel, a historical/political conspiracy thriller set in modern-day Russia where the Maguffin is (initially at least) a hunt for Stalin's notebook before turning into something infinitely sillier. Unfortunately the end result is so flat in almost every single way that you're left with little to do but notice the many plot holes and increasing absurdities in the pared down script that hits plot points but never makes you buy into the story or the clichéd characters in any way and seemingly goes out of its way to avoid dealing with any interesting issue that might threaten to crop up en route.

The trick to plots this absurd on the printed page is to surround them with big themes (the ongoing malign influence of Stalin and Russia's communist past, the commercial and political exploitation of history) and a lot of recycled historical research and local color to make people think you know what you're talking about. The trick to this kind of nonsense onscreen, however, is to keep it moving and put enough of a spin on the stock situations so that the audience doesn't stop to think, but screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Fresnais come up empty every time: when you see Beria having a soldier bury secret documents IN HIS OWN BACK GARDEN in a hole no more than 18 inches deep, you know that no-one's even making an effort here. Professionally made and watchable if you've nothing better to do, but it has that tired and uninspired factory feel to it. And who on Earth thought that Daniel Craig was perfect casting for a middle-aged American history professor? He's a fine actor, but he can't bring anything to the table against those kind of odds - not even an American accent. But even he isn't faced with the kind of ridiculous casting that Konstantin Lavronenko fails to conquer as a character who is supposed to be at least 52 years old but looks no older than 30 (although he's actually 45), rendering the final twist even more unbelievable on the screen than it is on the page.

The widescreen transfer is of the 3-part version that is some 12 minutes longer than the two-part version broadcast in the UK by the BBC, but the additional footage is mostly padding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dan Craig in new Role, 4 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Archangel (Extended Version) (DVD)
I cannot see why extended. A really good story, Slick, exciting but spoiled by italian subtitles and an unreliable disc
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Its in Italian!!!!!, 29 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Archangel (Extended Version) (DVD)
I am very disappointed this DVD is in Italian and since I live in Manchester, England I cant understand it!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Subtitles, 25 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Archangel (Extended Version) (DVD)
I was disappointed when I discovered the version I received was in Italian with English subtitles, so a mixture of Russian, Italian and English was far too difficult to follow easily, I kept losing the jist. I`ve read the book, but that didn`t help much and I`m sure I have seen Archangel on the TV in English. The supplier was very prompt, but I have returned this item and asked for a refund. I feel it would make things far easier for the purchaser if Amazon would state plainly which language the product is in.

The book is brilliant, but I would like the DVD in English please.
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35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Robert Harris's bestseller gets the life sucked out of it., 14 Jun 2005
By 
James Luckard (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
Everything about this production is disappointing. The direction is uninspired and ploddingly paced, the script is leaden and dull, and the leads are totally miscast. I have no problem with characters being changed significantly from a book, but the problem here is that we get the same characters as in the novel, but with actors totally unsuited to them.
Daniel Craig is a fine actor, but whoever thought of him as a world-weary, alcoholic American university professor who went to college in Moscow during the Soviet days is insane. He's far too young, too energetic and too physically fit for the role. And why on earth didn't they change his character's nationality at least?
Then there's the female lead. She may be a great actress in Russian, for all I know, but her English is incomprehensible most of the time, and she seems to have one all-purpose facial expression - annoyed. The chemistry between her and Craig seems to reach negative levels, as if they aren't even in the same film. She actually comes across as far more engaging when interviewed in the short featurette on the DVD.
The rest of the Russian actors also suffer from a total inability to convincingly speak English. The only exceptions are the handful of Latvian actors playing Russians. Their English is fine, but with their sing-songy Scandinavian accents they sound more like The Swedish Chef from The Muppets than Russians. They are hardly menacing, as they're meant to be.
The flashback portions of the film end up playing as some bizarre story of "Stalin In Love," and verge on the ridiculous, as the dictator is charmed by the innocence of a country girl he sees in a parade. Meanwhile, the plot holes are numerous, the biggest being the inexplicable fact that Craig's character speaks fluent Russian, but then, every now and then, seems to forget this fact, and depend on others to translate for him. Huh?
I expect big things from Mr. Craig; he's a major talent. One day this will deservedly be but a footnote on his bio.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comes across as a B-grade BBC television movie..., 14 Nov 2006
This review is from: Archangel (DVD) (2005) (DVD)
Obviously released because of Daniel Craig's up and coming outing as the new James Bond, Archangel is a rather tepid and manufactured film about the ghosts of the old Soviet Union and the legacy of Josef Stalin. Craig plays Fluke Kelso is a maverick academic who attends a conference in Moscow about the newly opened Soviet Archives.

His colleagues sneer at him behind his back for his radical views on the telling of history but Kelso doesn't care. He's his own man. One night he is visited in his hotel room by Papu Rapava, a former member of the Soviet police chief and bodyguard to its chief Lavrenty Beria. Fluke listens spellbound as Rapava tells him the astonishing story of Josef Stalin's finals hours.

Rapava explains how he helped the chief of police to steal a secret notebook from Stalin's safe and bury it in the grounds of Beria's Moscow house...where it still lies. Of course, a Stalin scholar can't resist the temptations of digging up the notebook; Fluke sets off for the Lenin Library to research the mysterious missing notebook and along the way meets Rapava's beautiful daughter Ziniada (Yekaterina Rednikova)

Using flashbacks, Archangel recounts those years with the Soviet Union dictator back in 1953. When Fluke and Zinaida travel to the remote Russian seaport of the cold, wintry Archangel in search of the elusive truth, the vengeance of both the Russian authorities and the dangerous underworld threatens to silence them both and reveal Stalin's secret that will change the change the face of Russian history forever.

The strength of Archangel is that it shows a side of Russia that we don't really see - the post Soviet poverty and hardship, the bleakness of the poor is juxtaposed with the glamorous and wealthy autocrats of Moscow. The film, however, is a bit boring and halfhearted, with lots of action mostly in the form of a lot of driving through bleak and desolate Russian landscapes.

Daniel Craig is good, and Gabriel Macht does a nice turn as an American journalist who is eager to sell the secrets of Lenin's diary to the highest bidder. But the whole story comes off a quite ludicrous and it's two hour running times makes it far too long for this type of material. Dick Clement - who was the mastermind behind the wonderful Avenger series - wrote the screenplay; but here he writes as though he's just lost his touch. Mike Leonard November 06.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watchable, 22 Mar 2007
By 
Prospero77 "Prosp77" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
The other reviews on Archangel highlight the fact that this dramatization appears a little 'flat'. But then Russia in Winter and the subject matter of Stalin isn't exactly Springtime in Paris! TV three & two parters can seem a little unrewarding watched back to back. I agree that you will probably not return to Archangel once you've watched it but I found it enjoyable nonetheless having studied Stalin in my honours year. The script has that 'they've just skim read a Robert Service book' sound to it but I did stay with it. It may gain currency if Daniel Craig's Bond career takes off but you have to be honest and say there is certainly something missing. Whether its a climax, plot point or a John Frankenheimer car chase, in order to satisfy the Odessa File genre that it sought to emulate it surely needed something else. Watchable but a bit like your favorite cafe latte without sugar!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine made-for-TV British thriller starring Daniel Craig, based on the even finer novel by Thomas Harris, 3 July 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
If movie thrillers can be thoughtful, literate and exciting -- and with no computer-created mega-explosions -- this fine British TV adaptation of the Robert Harris novel does the job. Archangel stars Daniel Craig and was made before Craig hit the big time as James Bond. Without the Bond fervor, this little-known film might never have been released on DVD. It tells the story of British professor Fluke Kelso (Craig), a middle-aged man who had made a name for himself with impeccable research on Soviet history, concentrating on the life and career of Josef Stalin. Two flashy, best-selling books made him a star in academia. But for the last three years, Kelso has been drifting through a burned-out life of dissatisfaction. That will change dramatically when, at a Moscow symposium attended by other historians, he is approached by a coarse old man, Papu Rapava, with a story of the last hours of Stalin. Rapava had been a guard for Lavrenti Beria when Georgy Malenkov calls Beria and pleads with him to come immediately to Blizhny, the name for Stalin's dacha outside Moscow. Stalin is dying of a massive stroke. Beria, shrewd and ruthless, takes the little key Stalin always carried. With the key and with Rapava driving, Beria races to the Kremlin and finds a small metal box locked away in Stalin's office. And in the box are some papers which Beria buries late that night in the yard of his Moscow fortified home, with Rapava digging the hole. When Beria was arrested and executed, Rapava was tortured to tell about the box. He said he knew nothing, guessing he'd be executed, too, if the new masters of the Kremlin suspected anything. He spent years in a gulag, but he lived. Well, that's the story Papu Rapava told Kelso.

In the next four days Kelso finds the box has been dug up and is missing. He'll meet Zinaida (Yekaterina Rednikova), a sullen Russian call girl who turns out to be Rapava's estranged daughter. He'll talk with Mamantov, a clever and unrepentant ex-Soviet senior official who now is running for office in the new Russia. He'll encounter O'Brian (Gabriel Macht), a big, friendly American television reporter who seems to know almost as much as Kelso. And he'll find the bloody, naked body of Rapava, tortured and left for dead in the grimy bathtub of an abandoned apartment.

Kelso is not sure what to believe. He's attacked by two thugs. Papu Rapava's daughter suddenly decides to help find the box. Major Suvorin of the FSB picks him up and tells him to be on the next flight out of Moscow. All the while Kelso knows that if he can find the box, read those long-ago documents and publish what he reads, he and his career will flash right back to the top again. When Kelso and Zinaida finally locate the box and read the papers, they find themselves reading the stained and mouldering diary of a girl thrilled to leave her home in Archangel to go to Moscow and serve the great father, Stalin. They find her medical records and reports from the NKVD on her family. They realize she bore a child, a boy, after she was sent back to Archangel, and that she died days after giving birth. The boy was adopted. Kelso and Zinaida leave for Archangel just before the winter snows arrive. And in the deep, frigid forests north of Archangel, Kelso, with O'Brian tagging along, encounters man-traps, a silent, abandoned collection of wooden huts...with smoke drifting from one of them. So now bring on the paranoia, ruthlessness, an attack by the Spetsnaz, death and a desperate escape. Bring on what the new Russia might revert to.

Archangel is a thoughtful thriller, but with enough excitement and momentum to keep things moving. It follows the book closely. The DVD looks very good. As an extra it includes the bios of Craig and Macht. Unfortunately, the book's fascinating re-creation of the Stalin gang has had to be reduced. Beria, Malenkov, Bulganin, Khrushchev, Molotov...after a few vodkas, Stalin would make them dance. Nearly all of the cast is Russian, with the movie filmed entirely in Moscow and Riga, Latvia. The movie looks overcast and cold, with frigid, drizzling weather. What makes Archangel work so well are the "what if" speculations by Robert Harris and Daniel Craig's fine performance. Craig has a rough face, not quite handsome. He can dominate a scene. He's also a mature actor with experience and versatility. Compare the job he does in Love Is the Devil as the slow-witted gay lover of Francis Bacon with the hetro-active, action-minded James Bond. I hope the James Bond franchise doesn't turn Craig into just another star-enhanced pretty face.

For those who like to read, give the novels by Robert Harris a chance. Two of his finest include Fatherland and Enigma. In my opinion, the movie Enigma, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard, is a fine, clever and thoughtful thriller. And for those who enjoy Archangel, both the book and the movie, try Robin White's novel, Siberian Light. It's another first-class, frigid thriller set in the frozen lands of Siberia, with an interesting, thinking hero.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a try, 11 Dec 2009
This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
I found the film when I was looking for something else. My first impression was that it was an ordinary Cold War movie. Then I thought BBC would not get involved in any ordinary project. The film was based on the events on the final days of Josef Stalin kept secret for nearly half a century.

As I was reading a book at that time about the period between Stalin's death and Beria's execution the film interested me very much. Even if the film showed the real characters on the film I would be willing to see them however fantastic the story. The film satisfied me with regards to my wishes. The story was of course full of Soviet era slanders, but they are understandable. You can not have a Western movie about the Soviet Union without mentioning gulag, torture chambers, sadistic leaders, rapist stastesmen!

The original dialogues were in Russian so it added quite credibility into the film. The Russian actors and especially the elder people showed great role playing talent on the screen. I can not say the same thing to the English speaking actors though. I heard about Daniel Craig but it was his first film for me. He suited for the role and acted quite impressively.

One important issue about the film was a deep message hidden between the lines in the dialogues of Russians of the older generation and the young ones. The older generation miss the old times when their country was a great nation and life was happy. The young generation does not share the same thoughts though. They reveal the slanders and lies behind the propaganda of the communists(!). In the film the older generation are shown as easily manipulative people which I can not but disagree. Of course this is for the historians to decide. The film is worth watching with a quite interesting ending.
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