Images of America

A Social and Historical Look
at America Through the Movies

Study Guide - Reds (1981)

Director : Warren Beatty

Stars :
Warren Beatty .... John "Jack" Reed
Diane Keaton .... Louise Bryant Trullinger Reed
Edward Herrmann .... Max Eastman
Jerzy Kosinski .... Grigory Zinoviev
Jack Nicholson .... Eugene O'Neill
Paul Sorvino .... Louis Fraina

Preparation :
Read the movie reviews by Roger Ebert and the New York Times Review and the story on John Reed.

Historical/Social Significance :
An insight in to the position of the left-wing politics in the US in early 20th century.

Shows the atmosphere and politics of the Bolshevik Revolution.

"There is a case to be made that REDS is the most complex and intelligent film not just about the Russian Revolution but about History that Hollywood has given us. (Edward Buscombe)

The movie "abounds with Great Moments of History, including the Bolshevik takeover of the Winter Palace in Petrograd" (Vincent Camby)

"...people actually embraced ideals of free love, women's equality, and human brotherhood - the film breathes the charms of the otherness of history".1

Synopsis :
A love story between John Reed and Louise Bryant is told against the backdrop of the early US socialist movement and the Russian Revolution.

    Guided Questions for Viewing :
    Assessment questions will be based on the following :
  • Explain how John Reed's attitude about the revolution changes as the movie goes on.
  • Why would some people consider REDS a feminist movie?
  • Do you think that REDS was a pro-Communist movie? Give examples from the movie to explain your answer.
  • The use of the "witnesses" who told anecdotes from the past which often conflicted with each other and were sometimes half-remembered were a device that might have something to say about the nature of History. Do you think the witnesses made the movie better and what do you think that their messages had to say about the nature of History?

1. Stansell, Christine. "Reds" Past Imperfect. 1995

Images 2005 Jack Nilan

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