Meeting

Werner Herzog gained intimate access to the last leader of the Soviet Union for this watchable documentary. Herzog, who comes across as the consummate dork throughout, mainly confines his questioning to the realm of historical platitude, but crosses the line into outright tastelessness in prodding the aged Gorbachev to discuss his agony over his wife’s death from leukemia: “How much do you miss her?” Even so, the film, combining interview segments with archival footage, does manage to produce a few moments of interest, with Herzog’s thesis presenting Gorbachev as a tragic figure deserving of audiences’ sympathy. Oddly, the elder statesman is one of those individuals who looks like a completely different person in old age, with even his signature birthmark seeming to have changed color over time – so let the retarded Paul-is-dead impostor conspiracy-theorizing commence!

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Meeting Gorbachev is:

Anti-Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a “reckless type”, Gorbachev laments, reflecting, “I should have sent him off somewhere.”

Pro-German. “I believe we have a common destiny with the Germans,” says Gorbachev, who grew up with German neighbors. “I personally feel that they are our closest friends.” Ultra-cuck Herzog, however, makes sure to remind viewers of the 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anti-nuke and anti-Trump. Gorbachev remains committed to nuclear disarmament, and Margaret Thatcher emerges as an antagonistic force in her more belligerent nuclear stance. “It’s a shame that the current American president declared he will modernize their nuclear arsenal,” observes Horst Teltschik, National Security Advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Pro-NATO and anti-Putin. Teltschik downplays the threat that NATO poses to Russia. “But we have to get back to having reasonable discussions with Russia,” says Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, “and probably that takes some sort of a jolt for Mr. Putin to realize that the hostility is not good […]” Disappointingly, Gorbachev is not permitted to say much of anything about Russia under Putin.

Socialist! “More democracy – that was our first and foremost goal,” says Gorbachev. “I also wanted more socialism!” The film does allow, however, for “errors in centralized planning” having contributed to the Soviet Union’s demise. Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is accused of “sinister reasoning” in his determination to take advantage of Gorbachev’s sincere desire for reform. “He really believed that he could reform communism,” Walesa scoffs. “Of course, I and many others knew communism couldn’t be reformed.” “Rather than dissolving the Union,” Gorbachev believes, “we should have given the republics more rights.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.