Gorky Park (1983)

gorky park poster 1983 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Horrific murder victims, behind the Iron Curtain mystery

So-so mystery

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Gorky Park

Studio:  Eagle Associates/Major Studio Partners

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  December 16, 1983

MPAA Rating:  R

gorky park skinless bodies in snow

Murder most fowl in Gorky Park

Three bodies are found without their faces or fingerprints in Gorky Park.  Now, Arkady Renko (William Hurt) not only has to find out who the victims are but who killed them.  While working against potential killers in the KGB, he finds ties to a woman named Inna Asanova (Joanna Pacula), an American detective named William Kirwill (Brian Dennehy), and an American businessman named Jack Osborne (Lee Marvin).  Who are the victims and who is responsible?

Directed by Michael Apted, Gorky Park is a suspense mystery thriller.  The film is an adaptation of the 1981 novel by Martin Cruz Smith.  It was met with positive reviews but a poor box office return.

I can remember when Gorky Park was a book you’d find on the shelf, and the movie was common at the video store.  We had a copy of the movie taped from HBO, but I never saw more than the beginning…and the horrific bloody faces in the snow.

gorky park decapitation head professor andrew ian mcdiarmid

I’m the Emperor…of Facial Reconstruction!

In the early 1980s, Russia was a big mystery.  The world of the Soviet Union and what went on there was rather unknown.  Gorky Park takes a standard police procedural detective story and puts it in the weird conflict between the KGB and the Moscow militsiya who act as the police.  Watching the movie in the modern day, this aspect is gone…Russia isn’t as much of a mystery, but the mystery in general is rather solid and worth visiting.

The acting is all over the place but it is mostly because of the language.  The film largely adopts “Russian accents are English accents”, but it is also mixed with William Hurt’s non-English accent and actual “American” characters played by Brian Dennehy and Lee Marvin…it starts to get confusing as to where the characters are supposed to come from.

gorky park arkady renko william kirwill william hurt brian dennehy

Yep…doesn’t pay to be American in the USSR

The movie gets the coldness of Russia, but obviously at the time, Russia wasn’t a viable location for filming.  The film was largely shot around Finland and Sweden so it lacks the bigness of Red Square or the actual Gorky Park (Russia actually denied the right to film in Russia saying the story was anti-Russia and anti-Soviet).

Gorky Park has an intriguing set-up but it kind of is a letdown.  With the fall of the Soviet Union the mystery of what lurks behind the Iron Curtain also has fallen…taking another layer of Gorky Park’s attraction away.  It still has enough twists and turns to be a decent mystery at points and the discovery of the bodies is still horrific…but you can probably skip this park.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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