Michael Apted did a commendable job in conveying the taboo nature of a story focused on a Russian devoted to his country, first and foremost about all else in an era when western audiences had never really seen such a thing before.
A detective investigates three murders in Moscow, leading him to a conspiracy involving the KGB that might get him killed.
During the Cold War, Arkady Renko (William Hurt), a Russian detective with a prior history of getting himself in trouble with the KGB, beholds three dead bodies buried in a shallow grave in Gorky Park in Moscow, a social area where people ice skate. It’s a very big deal because Moscow is supposedly “free of crime,” but these three bodies suggest otherwise. All three bodies have bullets in their torsos and the skins of their faces have been sliced off, making identification very difficult. Is this the work of a serial killer, or is this some kind of KGB conspiracy? Renko’s superiors demand answers, so long as the answers don’t implicate anyone in the KGB, but as Renko investigates, he finds that an American diplomat named Osborne (Lee Marvin) is somehow connected, and Renko teams up with an American detective gone rogue named Kirwill (Brian Dennehy) to get to the bottom of the mystery.
A dense and complicated murder mystery, but a satisfying one, Gorky Park was shot in Finland to make the Russian settings as convincing as possible in a time when Russia was off limits to Hollywood productions. Michael Apted did a commendable job in conveying the taboo nature of a story focused on a Russian devoted to his country, first and foremost about all else in an era when western audiences had never really seen such a thing before. Hurt is good in his role, while Marvin and relative newcomer Joanna Pacula as Hurt’s love interest are also solid in their dimensional roles. James Horner did the solid score, and the script was adapted from a popular novel by Martin Cruz Smith.
Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray edition for Gorky Park (it’s on it’s 40th anniversary) comes in a nice high definition transfer, with an interview with the late director Apted, plus the trailer, teaser, and TV spots, as well as a slipcover.