Main content

The Red Soul

The Red Soul

"The Red Empire is gone, but the 'Red Man' remains. He endures." —Svetlana Alexievich (Nobel Prize for Literature, 2015)

Why do so many Russians still defend Joseph Stalin as a great leader and a hero? Is Stalin a hero who led the Soviet Union to victory, or should he be held responsible for the millions of victims who died during his reign?

The Red Soul lays bare the Russian psyche of today and shows a world full of contradictions. In a country where hardly any family escaped the hunger, fear and violence resulting from Stalin’s reign of terror, no one has ever been convicted for the crimes committed under his regime. Even now, more than 50 years after Stalin’s death, Russians remain deeply divided over how to deal with the memories of this painful past.

In a mosaic of intimate portraits, ordinary Russians—both young and old—speak openly about their traumas, rooted in a violent history. Tales of pain alternate with tales of pride. Nostalgic stories of a state flourishing under the Communist ideal contrast with painful memories of hunger, violence and betrayal. Not infrequently, these conflicting views can be found in one and the same person. Gradually, this intriguing film exposes how the Soviet past lives on in current generations, and thus makes its mark on the future.

"Winning combination of topicality and artistic quality … Sensitively examines the palette of clashing colors along Russia's political spectrum."Hollywood Reporter

"Nearly 65 years after the death of Joseph Stalin, director/co-writer Jessica Gorter asks citizen of the Russian Federation the question if Stalin was a tyrant or a saviour. The response is illuminating, sad and relevant." —Filmuforia

"In a mosaic of intimate portraits, ordinary Russians, both young and old, speak openly about their traumas, rooted in a violent history."Cineuropa

The films not about Stalins terror, but about the way Russians deal with it today. Just like Gorter's 900 DAYS is not about the starvation of the German starvation siege of Leningrad, but about the memories of it." Filmkrant


Main credits

Gorter, Jessica (film director)
Gorter, Jessica (screenwriter)
Gorter, Jessica (cinematographer)
Winden, Marieke Van der (screenwriter)
Engel, Frank van den (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Sander Snoep, NSC, Erik Van Empel, NSC, Jessica Gorter; editing, Danniel Danniel, Bobbie Roelofs; music, Rutger Zuydervelt, with Ilia Belorukov & René Aquarius.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

History (Cold War Era)
Soviet Union


Icarus Films; "The Red Soul"; Icarus Films; Stalin; Joseph Stalin; Josef Stalin; great purge; propaganda; communism; USSR; Russia

Related Films

The Scientist, the Imposter and Stalin

Two extraordinary human destinies, caught up in the implacable political…

Three Songs about Motherland

A film about collisions between the past, present, and future in three…

900 Days

Unforgettable life stories told by survivors of the Siege of Leningrad,…