Plot Summary for
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1970)
Fly-on-the-wall treatment of an ordinary day in the life of a prisoner in Stalin`s Gulag. Closely adapted from Solzhenitsyn`s classic novel based on his own experiences. Shot entirely on location in northern Norway.
- As depressing as the book.. a true work of art..read the book first
I searched long and hard for a copy of this film and when I found it.. I was not disappointed. Depressing, dark, heavy, without hope.. Just like the book was written to make you feel! I wanted the film to end... release me... but I could not turn the VCR off. I was glued. No matter what your lot.. this film will make you feel glad you are not in that Hell-hole of a camp...You have your human dignity.
I have never seen a film that so closely follows the book from which it was adapted. Not adapted.. transcribed, almost word for word. The performances seen surreal, flat, hollow, lifeless. Not even an extra touch of art to shore up your sinking feelings as you plunge head first into utter hopelessness.
View this movie if you can find it... You will be happy you did.. and happier still when it is over. Your problems won't seem so bad!
- yes, it was depressing and sparse, and beautiful!
I wouldn't have a clue what it is like to be in a Russian prison camp, but Solzhenitsyn, who wrote the book was in one... In any case, I thought the movie was excellent at capturing the dreary hopelessness of it all, and yes, it is depressing as Mr Dabell says, but that's the whole point. If you want a happy feel good movie, don't watch this one, but this story reveals what reality is like for a segment of the world's population, especially those in prison for political purposes. I personally love this movie and wish it would be released on DVD and not be forgotten. I read the book because of the movie, and found them very similar, but am so glad someone made this into a movie.
- Cinematic experience
The comments of Mr. Dabell reveal what we value as 'cinematic experience' in the early 21st century - affect, false emotion, and illusion. 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' is a great film and an extra-ordinary cinematic experience not only because it is "well acted & directed", but also because it is true to Solzhenitsyn's book and the real & horrific experience of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Russians & other nationals in the USSR during Stalin's tyranny. If this is boring to Mr. Dabell perhaps he would have found the reality of building the prison camp & shooting the film in -30 degrees more interesting or perhaps he needs to read & understand the history of the 20th century more carefully. When the reality of the suffering of millions of fellow human beings becomes 'boring' we have by definition jetisoned part of out humanity, and failed to understand the difference between art and mere entertainment. As Solzhenitsyn wrote to my father (the director Casper Wrede) ".. you have made a good film, true to the truth, to the mood, to the feeling. I thank you, and I congratulate you with your success." What other review is necessary?
- A sparse and depressing film
This film is well meaning enough. It tries to convey the depressing conditions facing a prisoner in a Siberian labour camp. It's not an easy film to get to grips with, but the general idea is to show a typical day through the eyes of one of the prisoners. Despite the terribly boring nature of the day, he sees it as a good day in his existence because he manages to stay alive and even gets a crumb of extra food.
The film is inevitably painful to watch, but I think that is a deliberate effect. After all, to convey the boring existence of the prisoners, it seems reasonable to make the film seem long and drawn out and full of tedium. However, after a while the sparse stretches with barely any dialogue and barely any events begin to tire the viewer. It's all very well using silence and boredom to make a point, but when that point ruins the film then you have to ask if it was worth making in the first place.
The film is well acted and well directed. It succeeds in creating the desired mood. It is intermittently intersting as a snapshot of prison life in the most gruelling and unforgiving of conditions. But it's still a bad film, simply because it's boring. In spite of all the effort that went into getting the details just right, it simply doesn't have a story to tell. This should have remained in the pages of a book, because it quite simply does not make for a worthwhile cinematic experience.
- It gave me chills
This movie is has a serious visual impact. I still feel chilled to the bone and very hungry every time I think about this film. A very realistic portrayal of life in the Soviet prison camp system. I understand that the film was shot where the temperatures were in the 20 degrees F and that Tom Courtney had gone on a serious diet before filming. It is very sobering to see this almost emaciated actor with his breath freezing in front of his face. The scene in the mess hall of the meager diet of the prisoner will leave you with hunger pangs.
I'm surprised this film has not received more attention. It has been a long time since I have seen this movie, so I cannot remember how well developed the plot was. However, this is one of only a handful of films that made me feel like I was there.
- A hard-hitting portrayal of the life of a Gulag prisoner.
I finally obtained a video copy of this movie, and it lived up to all of my expectations. Tom Courtenay is easily believable as Ivan, and the early scene where he devours a cold and non-nourishing breakfast is a hard-hitting portrayal of what the life of a Gulag prisoner was reduced to. A horrific scene at the end of the movie (though not in the book) showing the Captain beginning his first night of ten in the punishment cells is representative of Solzhenitsyn's observation in "The Gulag Archipelago": The Soviet Union had its death camps too; it (as opposed to the Nazis) just didn't use gas.
- Moving historically accurate account of Soviet Gulag
This film portrays one day in the life of one prisoner of the Soviet Gulag. It wasn't a particularly special day. The sense of hopelessness shown in Shukov's day is very moving. The book won the Nobel Prize for literature and the film is loyal to the book. I have been looking for a copy of this film for my own personal collection for years, and will continue to do so.
Full Cast and Crew for
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1970)
Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn novel Odin den iz zhizni Ivana Denisovicha
Tom Courtenay .... Ivan Denisovich
Espen Skjønberg ... Tiurin
Alf Malland ... Fetiukov
Frimann Falck Clausen ... Senka
Jo Skønberg ... Gopchik
Odd Jan Sandsdalen ... Eino
Torstein Rustdal ... Vaino
James Maxwell ... Captain
Alfred Burke ... Alyosha
Eric Thompson ... Tsetzar
John Cording ... Pavlo
Matthew Guinness ... Kilgas
Country:UK | Norway
Release Date:7 December 1970 (Sweden)
Also Known As:En dag i Ivan Denisovitsj' liv
Filming Locations:Black Park Country Park, Wexham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Runtime: 100 min