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December 08, 1981 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-08

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, December 8, 1981-Page 9

'Reds' mix love, politics

(Continued from Page 5)
based on Beatty's appeal, but as
Reed's character emerges we find that
that empathy is deserved.
Diane Keaton plays the progressive
reporter Louise Bryant, and through
the course of the film transforms her
from a petulant, naive young woman in-
to a mature lady. Her acting changes
from Annie Hall girlishness to reveal a
woman deeply committed to her work
and to the man she loves.
The story of Reds is long and in-
ricate. For the most part it is the true
count of Jack Reed's life. The only
liberties taken in the plot are in the love
story, a story about which little is
known. But because of the depth of the
production and the intricate acting of
everyone, by the end of the film we feel
as though we know everything about
Jack and Louise.
The film uses an interesting device to
develop the biography of Reed. At the
0eginning, and frequently during the
course of the movie, different people
appear on screen and say something
about Jack Reed. Among those con-
temporaries of Reed that are shown are
Roger Baldwin, Henry Miller, Will
Durant, George Jessel, and Adela
Rogers St. Johns. Their descriptions
proyide a real, warm backdrop for the
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film; Reed isn't just a historical figure,
he was a human being whose influence
is still being felt.
Some have chided Beatty for not
identifying these people (some of whom
have since passed on), but their un-
named appearance carries a subtlety
that doesn't disturb the ongoing drama.
Had we seen their names in sub-titles,
the transition from documentary to the
movie world would have been jarring.
As it is, the comments shore up our ad-
miration for Jack Reed and make his
too-good-to-be-true character
One of the highlights of the film takes
place just before the intermission. Reed
and Bryant are in Russia reporting onb
the social unrest when the revolution
occurs. In a wonderful montage, or-
chestrated to the tune of "Inter-
nationale", Reed's intellectual idea of a
workers revolution is shown
emotionally. We see how the idea of
communism, and its occurence in
Russia, felt to him. While hearing Reed
talk up a storm about such issues shows
us his political -bent, seeing his
exhilaration in cinematic terms adds
another dimension to his character.
It is a mistake to overlook the
political nature of the film. The title, af-
ter all, isn't Love Story, it's Reds. The
movie is not a course in communism,
nor is it filled with socialistic
propaganda. But it is concerned with
establishing a couple of basic ideas,
demonstrating how these ideas influen-
ced our heroes, and how communism
began as a political force in America.

This movie would have been im-
possible to make 25 years ago. In fact, it
has been very hard at any time for any
media to broadly deal with communism
in America. It simply is not seriously
dealt with in our society, except as a
common phobia. For the first time a
major, public work is attempting to
treat communism not as a disease, or a
social panacea, but as a contrary
political idea.
The brilliance of the script manifests
itself in the balance between the epic
story and politics. The equal com-
bination of romance and history
produces a very strong film; it is hard
not to get swept up in the euphoria of
Reed's vision during tpe Russian
The backbone of the film, what
makes all the scenes work, is the sup-
porting cast members. There isn't one
weak link in the secondary characters
of Reds.
Like Ragtime, the film has a lot of
historical characters running around in
the background. Topping the list is Jack
Nicholson, as Eugene O'Neill, wonder-
fully underplaying the cynical, world-
weary writer. Maureen Stapleton gives
a subdued, yet strong portrayal of
Emma Goldman. Edward Herrmann is
quietly intellectual as the editor Max
Honorable mentions go to Paul Sor-
vino, as the political enemy of Reed,
and Gene Hackman, in a very small
role as Reed's editor. One of the best
bit-parts is that of the Bolshevik leader
Zinoviev, played by the writer Jerzy

Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty: Between kisses, they take time out for the
Russian Revolution and radical politics.

Kosinski. He seems to be a natural ac-
tor, bringing depth to his fiery,
bureaucratic character.
Among all of this, Vittorio Storaro's
low-contrast, muted photography
provides an unforgettable old-world
beauty. The simple charm of the pic-
tures offset the drama, providing a per-
fect counterpoint to the script.

Dede Allen's editing is a marvelous
integration of sight and sound.
Overlapping monologues, the already
mentioned montage sequence, and the
incisive inter-cutting of the witnesses
reaffirm her reputation as one of the
leading sculptures of moving pictures.
Beatty has done a phenomenal job
enlisting the many talented people it

took to make this picture. His care and
attention to detail mark him as one of
the pre-eminent directors around. His
knowledge of acting in front of the
camera, and his command of the
technical stuff in back of it, give him an
edge over other directors. But it will be
unfair of us to ask him to top Reds; it is
just too great a film.


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