Gulag | Chicago Reader


An innocent scene of boys diving into the Moscow-Volga canal near the beginning of Angus Macqueen's staggering three-hour study (1999) of Stalin's great terror turns sinister with the revelation that laborers' corpses are buried along its banks. Interspersing testimony of survivors of the Soviet prison camp system with the evasions and prevarications of their former captors, this BBC production demonstrates that the supposed triumph of Soviet industrialism depended on slave labor that caused the death of millions. Chilling footage of toasts made to the former prison commander of Norilsk (a Siberian city “built on bones”) at his 90th birthday party hints that some Russians would do it all over again. In English and subtitled Russian.

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