The Assassination of Trotsky (1972)

The Assassination of Trotsky Poster

A Stalinist assassin tracks exiled revolutionary Leon Trotsky to Mexico in 1940.

"The Assassination of Trotsky" is a 1972 British biographical drama movie directed by Joseph Losey. It is based upon the real occasions leading up to the assassination of the Russian innovative Leon Trotsky, and stars Richard Burton in the lead role. The film provides a dramatic portrayal of the troubled life of Trotsky and his eventual assassination by Ramon Mercader, a Spanish communist, in Mexico in 1940.

Plot Overview
The movie starts with the arrival of Ramon Mercader (represented by Alain Delon), under the alias "Frank Jackson", in Mexico City. Impersonating a supportive reporter, he manages to access to Trotsky's carefully secured vacation home. He skillfully uses his romantic involvement with Sylvia Ageloff, an American Trotskyist, to get closer to Trotsky.

Trotsky (played by Richard Burton), living in exile in Mexico, is shown competing with constant dangers against his life by the Stalin-led Russian federal government. Trotsky is depicted as a pensive theorist steadfastly sticking to his concepts regardless of experiencing privacy, fear, and the likely prospect of death.

Significant Highlights
The movie's climax is a tense and dramatic representation of Trotsky's assassination. Mercader, having gotten Trotsky's trust, strikes him down with an ice axe. This occasion follows a preceding failed assassination effort by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, which Trotsky makes it through. The scenes with Siqueiros offer a deep context exploration into the zeitgeist of the duration.

Acting Performance and Directorial Genius
Richard Burton delivers an impressive performance as Trotsky in representing his intellect, strength, and internal struggles in dealing with his enforced isolation integrated with a constant risk to his life. Alain Delon also remarkably performs his role as the assassin assisted by ideological fanaticism.

Joseph Losey directed his experience with blacklisting and exile during the McCarthy period into the film's storytelling, effectively stressing the feeling of constant monitoring and uprootedness that Trotsky goes through in his exiled life.

Critical Reception and Significance
"The Assassination of Trotsky" was questionable upon its release due to its political topic. Critics applauded Burton's impressive representation and the script's success in combining real-life details with the atmospheric thriller of a political thriller.

The movie stands out for its representation of a distinct historic period and political dynamics around innovative figures and their ideological battles. It highlights Trotsky's fate as a radical intellectual in a world of moving allegiances and political vendettas, similar to Mercader's ruthlessly ideological adherence that leads him to dedicate the brutal murder.

In conclusion, "The Assassination of Trotsky" is a potent political drama that blends history, suspense, and extreme character advancement. Its depiction of Trotsky's last years and the situations causing his assassination uses a deep dive into the political clashes of an era and stays a traditional example of British historic movie theater.

Top Cast

  • Richard Burton (small)
    Richard Burton
    Leon Trotsky
  • Alain Delon (small)
    Alain Delon
    Frank Jackson
  • Romy Schneider (small)
    Romy Schneider
    Gita Samuels
  • Valentina Cortese (small)
    Valentina Cortese
    Natalia Trotsky
  • Duilio Del Prete (small)
    Duilio Del Prete
  • Enrico Maria Salerno (small)
    Enrico Maria Salerno
  • Luigi Vannucchi (small)
    Luigi Vannucchi
  • Jean Desailly (small)
    Jean Desailly
    Alfred Rosmer
  • Simone Valère (small)
    Simone Valère
    Marguerite Rosmer
  • Peter Chatel (small)
    Peter Chatel
  • Giorgio Albertazzi (small)
    Giorgio Albertazzi