John Reed, called “the author of perhaps the best book ever written by an American about Russia, Ten Days That Shook the World,” (Frazier, p. 25) was brought to the silver screen by Warren Beatty in the 1981 film Reds.
The film is long, complex, highly political, and was the subject of a 2006 Vanity Fair article that got brought out of the archives and posted online this week. (Click here)
The article presents some of the challenges associated with making the movie, and describes a trip Warren Beatty took to the Soviet Union in the 1960s as part of his research into the life of John Reed:
Beatty said, “I asked [the Soviet authorities], ‘Can I talk to some people who might have known Reed?’ They said there was this woman who claims to have had an affair with him. I said, ‘Can I meet her?’ They took me out to her apartment on the seventh floor of one of those temporary-looking postwar buildings. She was about 80. Her mother was close to Lenin’s wife, and there is a picture of her, at the age of 15, an incredibly beautiful little girl, standing next to Lenin. I said, ‘Did you have a romance with John Reed?’ She said to me in Russian, ‘A romance? I fucked him!’ I said, ‘Were you ever in a labor camp?’ And she said, ‘Oh, yes.’ I said, ‘How long were you there?’ She said, ‘Oh, 16 years.’ I said, ‘How do you feel about Stalin?’ She said, ‘Only hate. But of course the revolution is in its early stages.’ It was at that moment I thought, I have to make a movie about that kind of passion.
Here’s a clip from the film set to the Internationale: