Within the Whirlwind

 (195)1 h 50 min201016+
Within the Whirlwind is based on the true story of Evgenia Ginzburg, a Russian literature professor who was arrested on false charges during Stalin's reign of terror and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in a Siberian Gulag. Upon meeting and falling in love with the camp doctor, also a prisoner, she regained her will to live and endured the horrific conditions of the Gulag until her release.
Marlene Gorris
Emily WatsonUlrich TukurBenjamin Sadler
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Ian Hart
Corinth Films
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4.4 out of 5 stars

195 global ratings

  1. 68% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
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  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

AthanatsiusReviewed in the United States on February 9, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Worth Watching
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An excellent portrayal of the brutality of of the Stalin-era communist party, even towards members of their own ranks. This is the fruit that comes from the outlawing of religion and the embrace of atheism as the excusive official government ideology. When morality is no longer anchored in God, that leads to moral relativism, and when that happens, all kinds of atrocities can be made to seem justifiable - in this case the 13 million sent to the prison labor camps under Stalin. It is too bad that our nation has not taken this and similar lessons from history to heart, and is in the process of adopting similar ideologies. The recent passage of a law in New York legalizing the murder of fully formed babies about to be born, that was actually celebrated and cheered by the governor and legislators, is an example of how the same thing is happening in the United States.

As a Christian who finds comfort in God and scripture during times of trouble, I could not help but notice the absence of references to God in this movie. Instead of scripture, we find Yevgenia repeating to herself poetry for comfort, but the lines fell so short of the comfort and hope in God that scripture brings us. However, good poetry, even that which is approved under atheistic regimes that censor out overt religious elements, can still subtely point one to God, as one line in the poem Yevgenia kept repeating to herself about the capableness of her body did: "Who do I have to thank for this?" A well-written line of poetry can smuggle in hope and light beneath the radar of censors with dulled sprititual senses.

Parents should be warned that though there is no nudity, there is cleavage in a scene, a love-making scene, and a scene where the women are being raped by the guards.
75 people found this helpful
HorussReviewed in the United States on October 17, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good movie---seeing it is worth your time
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I waited a very long time in great anticipation to see this movie. It was very well done. The acting was tremendous and the feel of the movie set the right tone for the period and the circumstances. I read the books many years ago and whenever anyone asks me what the best books are that I have ever read I always mention the books of Eugenia Ginsburg and nobody---ever---knows who she is or what she wrote about which is a bitter shame in my opinion. Her two volumes about her nightmarish experience as a victim of Stalin's reign of terror should be required reading for all. In my opinion her books are far better than the Gulag Archipelago precisely because she never makes it into a political treatise grinding her own ax of grievance as did the far more well known Solzhenitzin (apologies for undoubtedly misspelling his name). the task of attempting to tell Ginsburg's story is nearly an impossible one but this is a very good stab at it. The books are an epic tale of survival and a quintessentially Russian tale told unmistakably by a Russian soul that endures and endures despite unimaginable horror over many years. It would be impossible for a movie to actually capture this epic tale and do it true justice. Again, I'd say the movie is very good and it does a good job of providing a snapshot of Ginsburg's masterwork but if you only see the movie you will not really know the tale. This is said of many movies that adapt books to the big screen but it is particularly so in the case of Eugenia Ginsburg's books and story. If you like the movie I would highly recommend that you seek out and read her books--and even if you don't like the movie I would urge you to read the books! You will find you are the better for it as you descend with her into the madness of totalitarianism run amok, clinging with her to the memory of her humanity and her life and joys particularly her poetry and then emerge forever transformed albeit with deep and abiding wounds but alive despite the trauma of it all. If nothing else, I hope the movie sparks an interest in the books and then perhaps more people will value and protect the institutions that prevent such horrors from taking place.
83 people found this helpful
Alyssa A. LappenReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finely wrought from suffering
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This brilliant film beautifully conveys the arrest, imprisonment and poetry of Eugenia Ginzburg, a Jewish Russian literature professor. She was wife to Kazan mayor Pavel Aksyonov, a member of the USSR's Central Executive Committee in the largest city of Russia's Tartarstan until her arrest in February 1937.

The acting, scenery, music and poetry are all divine. This is one of the best films I have seen of late, and the recitation of the poetry is truly inspirational.

Ginzburg's troubles, like those of millions more, started with the Dec. 1, 1934 assassination of first secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party and staunch Stalin loyalist, Sergey Kirov, which launched the Great Purge.

In 1937 and 1938 alone, Stalin and his minions ordered the “legal” executions of some 700,000. An estimated 18 million Soviets were exiled to Siberian prison camps, from which 5 million never returned. Overall, Robert Conquest estimates that Stalin murdered at least 20 million, including those who died in great, party-induced famines.

In February 1937, Ginzburg was arrested for her alleged work with a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist group” at the Krasnaya Tatariia newspaper. Officials had already apprehended her communist party card (effectively itself a criminal conviction). She never participated in any such activities by in Stalinist Russia such facts did not matter. Tried in August 1937 in a 7-minute proceeding, she was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, a great relief to her, as she had expected a death sentence.

So much Soviet era poetry, chiseled with words alone (often secret and hidden from the authorities) is so stupendously magnificent. Ginzburg, Joseph Brodsky, Anna Akhmatova, Daniil Andreev, and on and on, many like Ginzburg deeply inspired by Pushkin, stands out for its extraordinary beauty.

This finely wrought movie represents the genre and era very well.
33 people found this helpful
Tatyana MReviewed in the United States on May 3, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hard to watch, but very well made
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Stalin's regime was the greatest tragedy not only of Russia, but of Ukraine as well and all other countries of the former Soviet block. Stalin was a paranoiac and ruled the county in terror and violence. He basically destroyed all the educated and intelligent people and put idiots in charge. He rewarded those who were snitching and telling on others, like neighbors and even relatives. My family was no exception. My grandmother was a teacher in a small town near Kiev Ukraine and her director was a tyrant. He made them work on weekends and if they protested he would complain to the top officials and teachers lost their positions. My grandmother survived the great famine in 1932-1933 when Stalin ordered to seize all grain and all food from farmers who opposed collectivization and wouldn't give up their land. He punished Ukraine for wanting not to be part of the Soviet Union and embrace socialism/communism. That's why I will always hate socialism and everything it stands for. The movie is very truthful. Millions of people perished in Stalin labor camps.
9 people found this helpful
TulliaReviewed in the United States on August 25, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Siberian Nightmare
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Genia Ginzburg, played brilliantly by Emily Watson, was a Professor of Russian Literature and a mother of two boys who dearly loved her. She was falsely accused of agreeing with a dissident who criticized the Russian government, Stalin's government. She was brought before three "judges" for her trial, who took all of five minutes to decide her fate. She was sentenced to ten years in a Siberian Gulag. She was placed in a train packed with women who could barely move, reminiscent of the death cars during Hitler's Holocaust. She was brought to the hinterlands of Russia, the frigid regions of Siberia to a ramshackle bunk house to share with numerous women to work at hard labor in the freezing cold, forgotten Siberian wretched lands.

While there, Genia received a letter that her husband, who had divorced her, had been arrested and had committed suicide in prison. Her oldest son was sent to a youth camp where he starved to death and her youngest boy was with her husband's sister. She was overwhelmed by the death of her son and ran off and hit head and was brought to the dispensary. She befriended a doctor, also a prisoner, and with whom she eventually fell in love, and whom she helped at times in the dispensary. The camp became aware of her relations with the doctor, and they sent the doctor to another camp.

The conditions at the camp were brutal. The prisoners were fed little food, mostly bread and water, and there were times when the guards raped the women prisoners. The women were forced to work chopping down trees in freezing cold weather, 45 degrees below zero. The hospital had little medical supplies. And often after a woman's time had been served, their case was reviewed and they were sentenced to five more years in the Gulag. According to statistics, 18 million men and women were sent to Siberian Gulags, and only 5 million returned.

Genia was one of the lucky ones if you can call it that. She was released after she served her ten years and reunited with her doctor.

This is a compelling, true story of the horrors of the Stalin government, which makes me wonder if the Putin government may be comparable.
14 people found this helpful
John RonningReviewed in the United States on October 11, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A story from Stalin's reign of terror - should be part of what's taught in public school history
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Others have done a good job of describing the contents, so I won't repeat those, but rather some thoughts we were left with after watching (possibly some might be answered in the memoir from which the movie was made, which we haven't read). One was, that this was a story about a loyal communist imprisoned unjustly (like a multitude of others at the time), but we didn't get much of a clue as to whether she came to see anything wrong with communism itself, or, like Kruschev (under whom she was rehabilitated and her rights restored), did she consider Stalin's error simply that he persecuted "good and faithful" communists alongside the millions that he murdered through forced famine and the gulags. Another thought - she, like many others, was a victim of the fact that people who were terrified of being victims themselves were incentivized to make false accusations, for which there was no due process, and she herself might have avoided 10 years in Siberia by doing the same thing, but she (commendably) refused (as she also refused to grovel and admit her "errors"), so her story highlights the great importance of due process, which, sad to say, seems to be lost to a great extent in our current political climate. I keep having this haunting memory from the years that we lived in South Africa, of a billboard with Stalin's picture on it, using it to advertise some shop - could anyone sell anything by using a picture of Hitler? Yet Stalin was as bad or worse, and though he is dead, his demonic ideology is still at work.
6 people found this helpful
T.D.Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Far from the reality, but the viewer can get an idea of Stalinism
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It is just a story about one woman's life. Though it is placed in the surroundings, that should paint the picture of that time, it doesn't say much. The camp looked like a walk in the park. But there was dirt, starvation, execution, lice, typhus... The pictures in the city also do not correctly represent communist Russia before war. But the viewer can get an idea (just multiply the poverty and corruption by 100 at least). But some of the wallpapers are a match to those that were commonly used in Russia in late 50s.
Everything else - how woman walk, talk, what they wear - is very English. Also it should be known, that convicts were forbidden to call the guards and their superiors "comrade".
The behavior of scared people, telling on each other, turning away from each other - yes, truly the mood of the communistic era. So sad that now people don't remember (or don't want to remember) millions of "comrades" sent to Gulag's...
3 people found this helpful
D. J. LeedhamReviewed in the United States on October 14, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Emily Watson is Superb
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Life in the Gulag just before, during and after WW2 as experienced by literature professor Ginsberg. This jewel of a film is brilliantly based on Ginsberg's book recounting her personal circumstances being judicially persecuted into and then enduring the infamous Gulag. Along with 18 million other Russians. 5 million of whom died in the camps.
Grim story? Well,no. Rather, inspirational testament to the human spirit. But if you are going make a brilliant, engrossing and compelling movie, then you need the brilliant acting of Emily Watson. She's at her very best in This movie. Ably directed and strongly supported by the cast.
Sure, we may have seen this kind of story before. Watson's performance makes this one special.
6 people found this helpful
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