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The Inner Circle
SUBJECTS — World/Russia;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Marriage; Human Rights; Suicide;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Caring.
Age: 15+; Rated PG-13; Drama; 1991; 137 minutes; Color.
Based on a true story, The Inner Circle recounts events in the life of Ivan Sanshin, Stalin's personal movie projectionist. Cast as a Russian "Everyman," Sanshin worships Stalin. All others, including his wife and his friends, are secondary. Anyone accused of being an "enemy of the state" is shunned, invalidating family ties, friendship, and any sense of justice. Over the years, Sanshin pays a heavy price for his devotion to the state and its leader.
The Russian writer/director of the film said that he was trying to explain to people in the U.S. the character of the many Russians who accepted totalitarianism.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide will assist teachers in using this film to explore the nature of totalitarianism and provide background about Stalin and the Soviet Union.
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What was it like to be from The Inner Circle in Stalin's time? This movie will give you a glimpse.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to The Inner Circle.
Stalin established a cult of personality that treated him as an infallible godlike figure. The investigative powers bestowed upon the NKVD (later the KGB) under L. Beria produced a society of fear. No one was immune from receiving the late night knock on the door, from ordinary citizens, to loyal Communist politicians, to members of the NKVD itself. According to Frank Smitha in Terror in the Soviet Union, investigations were rapid and appeals were few. Death sentences were commonplace. The old Bolshevik leaders, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukarin and Grigori Zinoviev, were subjected to show trials and convicted with coerced confessions. Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon provides an excellent story in which a loyal Bolshevik veteran suffers a fate similar to those of the Communist vanguard during Stalin's purges. Even Stalin's friends did not escape the purges. As Deborah Willis notes in Malevolent Nurture: "During the 1930s and 1940s in Stalin's Soviet Union, leadership fractured at all levels, not only within Stalin's 'inner circle' but also within local and regional party machines." (244-245)
The Learning Guide to the film The Inner Circle contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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