Reds | Chicago Reader

Reds

Rated PG 200 minutes

Warren Beatty's shapely 1981 epic, based on the life of radical journalist John Reed, is a stunningly successful application of a novelistic aesthetic—a film that makes full and thoughtful use of its three-and-a-half-hour length to develop characters, ideas, and motifs with a depth seldom seen in movies. Though it deals with historical events—World War I, the growth of the workers' movement in America, the Russian Revolution—history is not used simply as a backdrop; rather, Beatty focuses on the interdependence of personal choices and historical developments, mingling ideology and emotion in a very human whole. The cast is extraordinary, with Diane Keaton in particular achieving a weight and authority she hadn't shown before. With Beatty, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Jack Nicholson, Paul Sorvino, Maureen Stapleton, and a good many real-life “witnesses” of the periods and events covered, including Henry Miller and George Jessel.

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