Stalin was the first head of state in history to transform his real self into a “virtual” person for showcasing to the world. “Stalin — The Myth” is the first-ever documentary to report in detail on the Stalin cult: his motives, modus operandi and methods. It also reveals the real person behind the “Shining Sun”, as he had himself called: his cynicism, his ruthlessness, his affairs. The person who at the end of his life, as he himself admitted, no longer trusted anyone — not even himself.
Stalin even freely invented his own birth date, as documents found in Russia’s State Archives have now proven. He was over a year older than officially proclaimed!
When Stalin died on March 5, 1953 the masses were not unhappy about the death of a tyrant whom they didn’t really know. They mourned the myth he had provided them with. Every day, everywhere. Stalin — for the citizens of the USSR, while he was alive he was a god, immortalized in statues, paintings and films. The former seminarian from Georgia in the Caucasus knew about the power and impact of hymns, poems and legends. But the myth that was so diligently cultivated also had a dark side: he had nearly everyone silenced or killed who could have divulged anything about his true past and how he rose to power, in other words about the real Stalin.
Stalin permitted hardly any photographs or film footage to be shot of him outside a few official occasions. Contemporaries who experienced Stalin first-hand report that they didn’t even recognize him at first. This short man with the smallpox-scarred face and crippled left arm didn’t look at all like the pictures they were familiar with. One movie after another reinvented not only Stalin’s appearance, but in fact his entire life: especially the legends about him as Lenin’s faithful follower and the mastermind behind World War II battles. Film directors and the actors who played Stalin carried their fantasies to absurd lengths. For instance, Stalin conducting a friendly chat with Lenin; a small girl stands between them while Lenin states that every opponent of the revolution must be hunted down with implacable resolve. Stalin agrees, and with a loving glance at the child says, “For her sake, we have to do it.” Or in the movie “The Fall of Berlin”: Stalin flies into Berlin just after the Germans have capitulated. As the people’s savior, he climbs out of the plane wearing a white uniform, while prisoners liberated from concentration camps and Red Army soldiers enthusiastically swarm onto the runway to celebrate him.
The screen myth portrayed a man who was close to the people and always there for them: wherever the film Stalin appeared, miracles happened. The fantasy productions were carefully checked before release in Stalin’s private cinema in the Kremlin — the real nexus of power. And Stalin also provided the scenes to bolster the myth: parades and processions, Moscow’s magnificent edifices, the subway. Meanwhile, Moscow’s real inhabitants lived in stinking communal dwellings and looked to the solitary, perpetually lit window in the Kremlin. That too was staged: the real Stalin lived hidden behind the high walls of his dachas. His growing power, his increasing paranoia, and his worsening brutality made him more and more lonesome over the course of the years.
Only now have surviving members of Stalin’s family been willing to talk about his well-camouflaged private life and about his cruel side, which drove his despairing wife to commit suicide while the masses celebrated the mythical Stalin as a benefactor and friend to humanity.