Posts Tagged Obywatel Jones

Mr Jones (2019 film)

This is a superb and deeply moving film – and at the same time one of the most depressing I`ve seen for a very long time. Produced by a Polish film company, it is the true story of Gareth Jones, a brilliant Welsh student from a humble background who read Russian at Cambridge but who was denied a posting at the Foreign Office (presumably because, unlike Philby, Burgess, McLean and their friends, was not “one of us”). Instead he was recruited by his fellow Welshman the former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, to act as his adviser on foreign affairs. In this capacity Jones made a name for himself by securing an interview with the aspiring young German politician Adolf Hitler.

As a young man, Jones was a great admirer of Stalin, believing that Soviet Communism was the way forward for the progress of humanity. Using his connection with Lloyd George, Jones travelled to Moscow in 1931 hoping to secure an interview with Stalin himself. He failed, but in the course of his visit he encountered a cadre of western journalists sympathetic to the Soviet experiment, most prominently Walter Duranty, the correspondent in Moscow for the “New York Times”. Intrigued by rumours of a famine in Ukraine, Jones, suspicious of a ban preventing journalists from travelling there, managed to defy the ban in order to see for himself. What he found was truly horrifying and the film pulls no punches. A starving population in the countryside, bodies piled up in the streets, when all the while the plentiful supplies of grain were being transported to the cities in order to feed the workers delivering Stalin`s Five Year Plans. This man-made famine, known in Ukraine as the Holodomor, resulted in the deaths of up to 5 million people whilst all the time Duranty and his colleagues were filing denials to their readers in the West. Duranty was even awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 – never rescinded despite being totally discredited once the truth was revealed many years later.

When Jones returned to Britain he was accused of fabricating his account of what he had seen. Stalin had many admirers on the Left who regarded Hitler, not unreasonably, as the real enemy. In their view any attack on the Soviet system amounted to pro-German propaganda. Discredited in the eyes of progressive opinion, Jones undertook a journalistic assignment in Mongolia in 1935 where he was murdered by bandits. It later transpired that the guide assigned to protect him was a Stalinist agent. But there was some ultimate vindication. He had become acquainted with Eric Blair (George Orwell) on his return and is credited with being one of the inspirations for “Animal Farm”.

A post-script. The rehabilitation of Stalin in modern Russia is obviously an insult to the now-independent Ukraine, equally obviously compounded by the current invasion. Not unreasonably, Putin is seen as a re-incarnation of Stalin

Reviewed by Henry Falconer

Agnieszka Holland
Andrea Chalupa
James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard
2 hours 21 minutes

Poster by IMP Awards, Fair use,


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