Trotsky (TV series)
|Directed by||Alexander Kott|
|Country of origin||Russia|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Original release||06.11.2017 –|
Trotsky (Russian: Троцкий) is a Russian biographical eight-episode television mini-series about Leon Trotsky directed by Alexander Kott and Konstantin Statsky. The series stars Konstantin Khabensky in the title role. It debuted on Channel One in Russia on 6 November 2017 for the centenary of the Russian Revolution. The series is a rare high-budget artistic representation of Trotsky in post-Soviet Russia, as his name was a taboo during most of the Soviet period.
The series is structured as a series of flashbacks to earlier episodes in Trotsky's life, framed by events during his asylum in Mexico City (1939-1940). The first episode begins in May 1940, on the outskirts of Mexico City, when a group of Mexican Communists dressed as policemen attack Trotsky's house. After shooting into the house for nearly a quarter hour, Trotsky and his wife amazingly survive untouched. Afterwards, he reflects on his situation. Having lost almost all those close to him during his eleven years of exile from the USSR, Trotsky perceives USSR dictator, Stalin, will relentlessly pursue him until he is dead. Trotsky decides to leave a political testament of how a man from an oppressed minority managed to successfully overthrow the Tsarist regime and establish a new social order. He invites an ideological opponent – a Canadian journalist sympathetic to Stalin – to work with him and write that testament. Each episode of the series then explores a period in his life as an emerging leader of the Communist Revolution who then lost his new power to Stalin.
Cast and characters
The proposal for the series came from Konstantin Ernst, the chief of Channel 1 (other series produced by the Sreda production company were offered to TV channels during the screenwriting stage).
According to Elena Afanasieva, Director of Creative Channel Planning Directorate of the Channel 1, less than a year passed since the idea of the series was introduced and until the end of the shooting. Subsequently, Konstantin Ernst confirmed this, saying that another TV series about the revolution that the channel planned to implement was shelved, as a result which he had to urgently appeal to Alexander Tsekalo with a proposal to shoot a series about Trotsky.
Konstantin Khabensky previously portrayed Lev Trotsky in the 2005 TV series Yesenin. According to Konstantin Ernst, producer of both TV series, Khabensky played "incorrectly". Khabensky himself claims that 80% of his role was cut out, and in the new television series he plays Trotsky in accordance with his first idea.
According to Mediascope, the series started on Channel One on 6 November 2017 with a rating of 4.9% and 14.8%, becoming the most popular TV series of Russian television for the period from 6 to 12 November 2017, having overtaken another series about the October Revolution Demon of the Revolution in the same time slot (rating - 3.6%, share - 9.7%) on Russia-1. At the end of 2018, streaming company Netflix bought the distribution right of the series and made it available on its platform.
The series has been criticized for numerous historical inaccuracies in its depiction of Trotsky as a megalomaniacal leader who masterminded the October Revolution, invoking many of the antisemitic tropes used by the White Guard during the Russian Civil War. Among the many historical falsehoods are that he knew his assassin to be a Stalinist and invited him to write his biography for him. The important (and final) episode of Trotsky's assassination by Ramon Mercader, the NKVD agent, ordered by Josef Stalin, and the role of his lover Sylvia, who facilitated his admission to Trotsky's household, are totally misconstrued or downplayed. Facing the criticism, Konstantin Ernst, the general producer of the series, insisted that they were aiming to weave a fictionalized narrative around the basic facts of Trotsky's biography rather than making a documentary.
The series has also been criticized by RFE/RL journalist Luke Johnson for "taking contemporary Russia’s anti-revolutionary ideology global" and for being a vehicle for Russian state propaganda, "unmistakably align[ed] with the Kremlin worldview", critical of "Western decadence" and foreign "interference" in Russian domestic affairs.
The Association of Film and Television Producers in Russia awarded the series in the categories Best Sound, Best Editing Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects, Best Actress (Olga Sutulova), Best Actor (Konstantin Khabensky), Best TV series.
- "Russian Drama Trotsky Being Launched by Eccho Rights". TVDRAMA.
- "Самая долгожданная премьера сезона, многосерийный фильм "Троцкий", на Первом канале уже сегодня" [The most long-awaited premiere of the season, miniseries "Trotsky", on Channel One will air today] (in Russian). Channel One Russia.
- Sergei Yuriev. "Константин Хабенский: "Как человек Троцкий мне неинтересен!"" [Konstantin Khabensky: "As a person, Tortsky is uninteresting to me!] (in Russian). Argumenty i Fakty.
- "Russian state-run TV marks revolution's centenary with surprise series recounting rise and fall of Leon Trotsky". The Independent. 16 October 2017.
- Joshua Yaffa. "Putin's Russia Wrestles with the Meaning of Trotsky and Revolution". The New Yorker.
- "Russian Revolution's 'rock'n'roll star' Trotsky gets centenary TV series". The Guardian. 3 November 2017.
- "Метод Цекало: как шоумен стал первым российским партнером Netflix" [Tsekalo's Method: how a showman became Russia's first Netflix partner] (in Russian). RBK Group.
- Elena Afanasieva. "Конференция со слушателями: какие сериалы мы смотрим" [Conference with listeners: which series we watch] (in Russian). Echo of Moscow.
- Elena Afanasieva. "Революция русского контента. Программа Russian content revolution на телевизионном рынке в Каннах" [Program Russian content revolution at the television market in Cannes] (in Russian). Echo of Moscow.
- "Константин Эрнст: Троцкий – продюсер революции" [Konstantin Ernst: Trotsky - producer of the revolution] (in Russian). Vechernyaya Moskva.
- Вечерний Ургант. В гостях у Ивана Константин Хабенский и Ольга Сутулова.(03.11.2017) [Evening Urgant. Ivan's guests Konstantin Khabensky and Olga Sutulova.(03.11.2017)] (in Russian). Evening Urgant.
- "В Канне состоялась мировая премьера российского сериала "Троцкий"" [In Cannes occurred the world premiere of Russian series "Trotsky"] (in Russian). TASS.
- "Россия (города 100 тыс.+), 06/11/2017 — 12/11/2017, программы-лидеры по жанрам, телесериалы". Mediascope.
- "Trotsky coming soon to Netflix: Russian revolutionary series to go on online streaming". Tass. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- "Russian TV series claims Jewish Trotsky masterminded bloody 1917 revolution". Times of Israel. 28 September 2017.
- ""Ненаучная фантастика": Историки о сериалах "Демон революции" и "Троцкий"" ["Unscientific fiction": Historians about the series "Demon of the Revolution" and "Trotsky"] (in Russian). Kinopoisk.
- "A degraded spectacle of historical falsification and anti-Semitism". World Socialist Web Site. 25 November 2017.
- Guzeva, Alexandra (21 December 2018). "4 reasons to watch 'Trotsky' on Netflix". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- "Opinion | You might be binge-watching Russian propaganda on Netflix". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "Константин Хабенский и Ольга Сутулова завоевали премию Ассоциации продюсеров кино и ТВ". TASS.
- Susanna Alperina. "Фильм "Ким Филби. Тайная война" признан лучшей докудрамой". Rossiyskaya Gazeta.