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. All of this in six years! 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.
Directed by Werner Herzog and Andre Singer | 92 min
Not since Klaus Kinski has Herzog aimed his camera at such an uncontrollable subject, and that includes the erupting peaks of “Into the Volcano” and the radioactive crocodiles in “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” And yet, it’s ultimately because of Gorbachev’s seeming unwillingness to fit the director’s usual mold that “Meeting Gorbachev” is able to become such a different and engaging bio-doc, as Herzog is left no other choice than to abandon the dark irony that tends to veil his work and embrace a more sincere approach. -Indiewire