Testimony (1988 film)

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Directed by Tony Palmer
Produced by Michael Kustow
Grahame Jennings
Written by David Rudkin
Starring Ben Kingsley
Music by Dmitri Shostakovich London Philharmonic Orchestra
Cinematography Nic Knowland
Edited by Tony Palmer
Distributed by Digital Classics DVD DVD 2006
Release date(s) 1988
Running time 151 min.
Country UK
Language English

Testimony: The Story of Shostakovich is a 1988 British musical drama film directed by Tony Palmer and starring Ben Kingsley, Sherry Baines and Robert Stephens. The film is based on the memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) as dictated in the book Testimony (edited by Solomon Volkov, ISBN 0-87910-021-4) and filmed in Panavision. Some consider the book to be a fabrication.



"A masterpiece...exceptional; an undoubted hit" - The Sunday Times

"The best British film of the year" - Films and Filming

"Exciting and deeply moving piece of cinema" - The Independent

"Testimony is one of those comparatively rare events nowadays – a real piece of cinema. Palmer's prowess as an editor, his knack of juxtaposing image and music – something which has remained his forte since he first caused a stir back in the sixties with Buddhist monks burning to The Beatles – has a field day in Testimony. Most importantly for a movie about a composer, there is always the feeling that Palmer understands the music. For a start, he puts to rest the hoary old cliché that the private Shostakovich is only to be found in his chamber music – try listening to the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth symphonies – but he also brings vividly alive musical details (like the composer's use of unison scoring) in colour sequences showing the orchestra, as in the climax of the Fifth ... a truly remarkable film." - Derek Elley 'Films and Filming'

"Shorn of the composer’s youthful iconoclasm or any scenes of happier private life, this is the familiar tale of Shostakovich v Stalin, but told with the individual flair of a born image-maker in black and white scenes tellingly lit and interspersed with flashes of colour (mostly red). Kingsley captures well the composer's ironical tone as well as his nervousness under fire ... As a concentrated dose of pure anguish, it’s compellingly done." - BBC Music Magazine



The London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Golden Age Singers

  • Chorus Master: Simon Preston


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Volkov, Solomon: Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator; Knopf 2004. ISBN 0-375-41082-1
  • Fay, Laurel: Shostakovich versus Volkov: Whose Testimony? – The Russian Review, vol. 39 no. 4 October 1980 pp. 484–493.

External links[edit]