Reds (1981, 15)
Warren Beatty’s tribute to journalist John Reed, author of Ten Days That Shook the World, provides an intriguing look into American political radicals of the early twentieth century, their fascination with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the improbable foundation of a communist state.
Reds begins in 1915 in Portland, Oregon, where Reed (Beatty), budding radical and chronicler of Pancho Villa’s Mexican uprising, makes the acquaintance of Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton). Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous start of the twentieth century, their on-again off-again romance is punctuated by the outbreak of World War One and the Russian Revolution. Framing the narrative are remembrances from a number of Reed’s contemporaries, whose perspectives bring the era’s optimism and disappointments into even sharper focus. The film earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including wins for Beatty’s direction, Maureen Stapleton’s supporting performance (as activist Emma Goldman) and Vittorio Storaro’s breathtaking cinematography.