Meeting Gorbachev

New York Times Critics' Pick
90 mins.
Directed by  Werner Herzog and André Singer
English, Russian, German, and Polish with subtitles

Introduction and post-screening Q&A with William Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, Amherst College, and Christian Rogowski, G. Armour Craig Professor in Language and Literature In the Department of German; Chair of German, Amherst College.

Werner Herzog and André Singer’s riveting documentary, filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews, provides incredible access to, arguably, the world’s greatest living politician.

Now 87 and battling illness, the visionary Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the U.S.S.R, has mellowed and slowed down. Still, gently but resolutely, he is pushing towards his goals.

Herzog, as on-screen interviewer, does not disguise his affection, celebrating Gorbachev’s three remarkable accomplishments: negotiations with the U.S. to reduce nuclear weapons; cessation of Soviet control of Eastern Europe and the reunification of Germany; and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.

One German diplomat sums up Gorbachev’s approach: “The process went so quickly that ... opponents were overcome by the reality of the situation.” Herzog and Singer remind us of the drastic and unforeseeable way the world changes.

"But if MEETING GORBACHEV finds its subject mostly staying on a pro-peace, antinuclear message — and it’s a script that’s hard to argue with — Herzog shapes the film into a study in how world events often come down to quirks of character and circumstance." Ben Kenigsberg. A New York Times Critic's Pick!