Gulag is a 1985 film directed by Roger Young, based on the memoirs of Russian writer and dissident Varlam Shalamov. The movie tells the story of an American businessman named Irwin J. "Fletch" Fletcher (played by David Keith) who travels to Moscow in the late 1940s to explore business opportunities. However, he gets caught up in the madness of Stalin's regime and ends up being arrested for a crime he didn't commit.
Fletch is sent to a Soviet forced labor camp, or Gulag, where he's forced to work in a harsh and brutal environment alongside other prisoners, including a British doctor named Dr. Wiggin (played by Malcolm McDowell) and a Russian inmate named Levcha (played by Warren Clarke). The three men become friends and struggle to survive in a system that's designed to break their spirits and turn them into loyal communists.
The movie reflects the harsh reality of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin's rule, where millions of people were persecuted, tortured, and killed for opposing the regime or simply being suspected of opposition. The Gulag system was one of the most notorious tools of repression, where millions of people were forced to work in inhumane conditions, often for the rest of their lives.
The film portrays the daily routine of the Gulag inmates, who wake up early in the morning to take part in roll call, then work for long hours in mines, factories, or farms. They're barely fed and often suffer from diseases, injuries, or hunger. The camp guards are brutal and often beat the prisoners for no reason, while the camp administrators are corrupt and use their power to extract favours and bribes from the inmates.
Fletch, Wiggin, and Levcha try to resist the dehumanizing effect of the Gulag by forming a bond of friendship, solidarity, and resistance. They share smuggled books, talk about their past lives, and dream of the day when they'll be free. However, they're constantly reminded of the reality of their situation, as they witness the suffering of their fellow inmates, the cruelty of the guards, and the utter hopelessness of their chances of escape.
Despite the grim subject matter, Gulag is a well-crafted film that combines drama, suspense, and a touch of humor. The performances of the three main actors are convincing and moving, as they depict the complex emotions of characters who are driven to their limits by the harshness of their environment. The cinematography is also impressive, as it captures the bleakness and beauty of the Siberian landscape, which serves as a backdrop to the story.
Overall, Gulag is a powerful and gripping film that sheds light on a dark period of history that's often overlooked or forgotten. It reminds us of the importance of human dignity, freedom, and justice, and the dangers of totalitarianism and repression. It's a film that deserves to be watched and remembered, as a tribute to the millions of people who suffered and died in the Gulag system.