Growing Clematis Babies

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I only lost one perennial in the garden this spring, due to freezing temperatures. I had six clematis vines trailing up their trellises when the cold pinched them. Five came back. One did not. Losing one plant out of hundreds isn’t bad. And yet, there’s a gap where that clematis should be. I considered purchasing a new plant, but the perfectionist in me was concerned I couldn’t match the color of the other blooming vines in that area. And besides, I could use four or five new clematis plants.

I decided to try propagating clematis plants for the first time.

Growing Clematic Babies

Growing Clematis Babies in Water


There are several methods for creating new plants from existing ones. I decided to go with the easiest…growing new plants from cuttings in water. And I have the perfect container for rooting the vines in.

Growing Clematis Babies

My daughter Elissa passed on these unique bud vases to me, several years ago. I confess, it’s difficult for me, cutting flowers to use for display. I’d rather have them growing in my garden than dying in a vase, so I rarely gather flowers. However, these little vases make perfect incubators.

Growing Clematis Babies

Clematis Baby Cuttings

I took cuttings from these four beauties. Here are the easy steps I followed.

1) Prepare containers for rootings. They need to be tall enough to hold the cuttings. Dissolve aspirin in water and fill containers. The aspirin helps the cuttings to root. I used one low dosage aspirin in about 6 cups of water.

2) Cut a 6-8 inch section of vine from the top of the plant. Remove any leaves that lie below the water line, as they may rot. Clip off any blooms or buds so that energy is directed to rooting and not producing flowers.

3) Place cuttings, in aspirin water, in a bright window without direct sunlight. A north facing window is ideal. Use a grow light if a suitable window isn’t available. Change water daily, to prevent stagnation, and add a low dosage aspirin with each water change.

4) Once roots are 1/4-1 inch long, begin adding a tablespoon of potting soil a day to the container, so roots adapt to soil. When the container has mostly soil in it, transplant vine to a pot. Acclimate the vine to the outdoors by increasing the amount of sunshine it receives each day. When plant tolerates being outdoors for 24 hours, it’s ready to transplant into the ground.

Growing Clematis Babies

Test Tube Clematis Babies

I love creating, whether it’s a drawing or a recipe or a new plant. And I enjoy using what I already have on hand. It’s also important to be adaptable.

Cleaning the containers with a bottle brush, I accidentally broke the bottom of one of the tubes. Greg used a silicone sealer, in an attempt to fix it. I’m letting it cure for 24 hours. If it seals and holds water, great. I don’t mind the wabi sabi look…beauty in imperfection. And if it doesn’t hold water, that’s okay too. I still have five tubes.

It was as I was washing the containers that I recognized the irony of their shape, and laughed. These are large glass test tubes. I’m growing clematis babies…in test tubes. I have test tube babies. I couldn’t have a more appropriate container!

Growing Clematis Babies

Backyard Garden Series

Is your garden ready for spring planting? Need a selection of reliable, easy to grow perennials, herbs and annuals? Check out other posts in my Backyard Garden Series.

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

Growing Clematis Babies


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.


One Day at a Time

I came across a short quote on Friday, as I worked on that day’s blog post, that delighted me. Sometimes it’s the really simple things that bring me great joy. In this case, the quote also connected to me personally and served as a thumbs up for my theme this year of Story. I love these playful winks from the Divine.

One Day at a Time

I looked for a source for the quote today, without finding one, as the meme I saw didn’t credit anyone. I couldn’t find an author or a movie that it came from or any hint at all about the origins.

One Day at a Time

I adore the words. This is precisely how I’m living my life, one day, one story at a time. And with the blog theme for this year, the quote perfectly sums up my daily writing. I’m sharing the life I live, one day, one blog post, at a time.

Thinking about the truth of those words, I recognize it’s what we’re all doing. The choice we have, is…what kind of stories are we telling?

Some days, my story is a joyful one, full of amazing surprises. Other days my story has sorrowful undertones. I’ve lived in scary stories, hurtful tales and “don’t mess with me” shorts. I’ve loved the adventure stories and learned through the “this is how you grow” ones. And many, many of my stories are wondrous accounts of Divine guidance and invitations, full of synchronicities and signs and ahas.

I’m reminded not to dwell long on the stories from my past. There are sweet memories there that can fuel current stories, but there are also painful remembrances as well that can darken my daily stories if I hold on to the pain. And I can completely miss the story that unfolds today if I’m longing for a future one that has yet to be written. In the flow of Life, the stories will be told, as I live them.

Every sunrise presents a fresh blank page. The invitation offered to me is to create my story. I accept.

One Day at a Time

Dayan: A Citizen of the World

Today my eldest grandchild celebrated a birthday, turning 19 years old. I’ve written four previous birthday blog posts for Dayan. I wanted to do something a bit different this year.

As I thought about my grandson on the eve of his birthday, I expressed gratitude for what an amazing person he is. Dayan has taught me so much about life as I have observed how he relates to people, how well he embraces diversity and how big his world view is.

Suddenly two words popped into my mind…World Citizen. Was that a thing, I wondered? What is a world citizen? I looked up the phrase. I found that the term is a valid one, and it perfectly describes Dayan.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

A world citizen is one who identifies with being a part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices. A world citizen relates to all people generously and openly. He or she appreciates different cultures and languages and incorporates them into daily life.

That definition captures well Dayan’s way of perceiving the world. As I scrolled through some articles on global citizenship, I found one called “Four Ways to Be a World Citizen”. Dayan is already instinctively doing these things.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

The article states, “To become a global citizen, you should have an open mind, educate yourself, get involved in your community, and travel when possible.”

Have an open mind.

• Learn about your heritage. It’s important to have a global mindset, without losing touch with your own unique heritage and the cultures that contributed to it.

• Inquire about others’ backgrounds, by talking to people in your own and other communities.

• Learn about equality and inequality, by reading history books and articles, listening to the news and to people’s stories. Everyone deserves healthcare, education, respect and justice when wronged, regardless of race, age, religion, identity and ancestry.

Dayan just recently did a DNA test, through His results give him a broad awareness of where his ancestors came from, how they lived, and when they migrated to the US. He is interested in learning about other people and cultures by asking questions and accepting people for who they are. He already understands about equality and inequality and seeks ways to support those who are not given equal rights and works to initiate change.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

Educate Yourself

• Learn about current and past world events, and understand how past events have influenced the present.

• Discover the values of other cultures, especially those that are far removed from your own culture.

• Read as much as possible.

• Learn another language.

My grandson is my go to person when I have a question about world events, geography or different cultures. He knows, because he spends time reading and watching the news and learning from a variety of sources. He is that person who does extensive research on the internet, reading everything he can find about history, an event or a country.

Dayan just completed his first year at the University of Missouri, where he is an honor student with a double major…Political Science and Russian. He took Spanish in high school and chose Russian in college when his first choice had a waiting list. He’s discovered he loves Russian and he has some exciting possibilities coming up for studying abroad.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

Get Involved

• Share and listen to stories, to learn more about different cultures and about what’s important to others.

• Support art, music and culture in your own community.

• Make new friends, in your community and in others. Thanks to social media, you can be friends with people around the world.

• Volunteer, supporting causes and organizations you believe in.

• Stand up for injustice.

Dayan has always been great at connecting with people. He’s just begun to get involved in other areas, lending his support and his voice to causes he feels passionately about. Injustice is something he strongly speaks out against and stands in opposition of.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

Travel to Other Places

• Take a road trip. Start in your own community, your own area and your country and see new places and experience new things.

• Teach in other communities.

• Travel abroad.

This is the area Dayan is launching out into. He’s visited new places in the US…Chicago most recently. And last year about this time, we flew to Italy together, Dayan, his mom and me, for his first trip abroad. I know this is just the beginning for this world minded young man. He is eager to visit other countries, experience other cultures, and see how people live in other parts of the world.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

One of my favorite photos from the Italy trip. Dayan wading in the Mediterranean.

After reading the article I referenced above, I can see that Dayan is, indeed, a citizen of the world. He thinks globally. And he has big dreams for the big world he inhabits.

At the end of his college freshman year, Dayan was honored to be elected as President of Mizzou’s Model United Nations and sworn in as Director of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in one of the three main student governments at the university. I’m proud of him, for all that he is accomplishing and for all that he dares to do. And trust me, this young man dares greatly. I have no doubt that he will travel far and wide, in life and in the world.

Happy birthday Dayan. You are making a difference in the world, just by being you. I’m excited to see what you do, as a citizen of this magnificent world.

Dayan A Citizen of the World

Venice, Italy.

The End of the Story…

I’ve been uncertain all day, about what I would write about this evening. Several possibles came to mind, but nothing settled. Being a double blog day, I completed the health blog post prior to the series finale of one of my favorite tv shows.

Once Upon a Time just finished its seventh, and final year. The two part finale started last Friday night and concluded this evening. I made sure I had time blocked out for the show. I have loved this series, for many reasons. However, I didn’t intend to write about it tonight. I resisted writing about it. I cast about for another story.

Guess what? I’m writing about it…

The End of the Story

This is what’s foremost on my heart and mind at this moment, so I quit resisting and slipped back into the flow. This is not a review. It’s a farewell to a show that captured my loyalty and a group of people that won my respect and appreciation.

Once Upon a Time is based upon the fairy tales we grew up on, and the characters that told those “tales as old as time.” And because this series is owned and created by Disney, there is a distinct disneyesque quality to all of the stories. That’s okay with me. I grew up on Disney animations, and continued to view the new films with children and then grandchildren.

The End of the Story

In this enchanting and complicated series, the people of Storybrooke are all from a fairy tale realm, heroes and villains familiar to the viewer. Initially they’ve forgotten who they are and how they are connected. Gradually, as memories return, they remember, and step back into who they really are.

There are many, MANY challenges to overcome, and new threats and curses to dispel, and relationships to discover and rebuild. It was fun, over the years, to figure out, along with the characters, who they really were. Each season new characters appeared, and disappeared, as their stories were resolved. At the core was a group of regulars who shifted from being enemies to friends and then family.

The End of the Story

The End of the Story

At the end of season six, many of the regular cast members left the show, after receiving their happy endings. The creators decided to reboot the series for a seventh season, with a new setting, several of the familiar characters, a host of new characters, and a new curse.

People can have a hard time with change. The fan base was split on whether this reboot was a good idea or not. Me? I’m a loyal fan. If something wins my heart, it earns my loyalty as well. I watched the new season with an open mind, and enjoyed the development of old characters, in new ways, and the inclusion of additional fairy tale characters. It was still Once Upon a Time to me, and some of my favorites had continued on from the previous seasons.

The End of the Story

The End of the Story

However, all good things come to an end. And the decision to end the series, brought us to a grand finale. I loved that the writers created a very powerful conclusion, and the casts of the previous seasons and the current one joined together to tell the end of the story.

It was an emotional ending! Seven seasons meant I had a lot invested in this story. My grandson Dayan and I watched five of those seven seasons together. I would have been happy if the series had gone on for another ten years. If it had to end though, it went out on a very satisfying and high note.

The End of the Story

At its core, Once Upon a Time was a story about transformation. Those who were evil, changed, or suffered from their own destructive ways. Those who doubted themselves, learned who they were and what they were capable of. Heroes abounded. And they did good deeds. The pure of heart never lost hope. And those who felt they could never have a happy ending, found one.

Tonight, everything came full circle. I watched through teary eyes as the story drew to a close, and as one by one, the characters received what they most desired. There were sacrifices. There were reunions. There were surprises. There were new beginnings.

The End of the Story

I appreciate this show’s messages: We are more than we think we are. Good always wins over evil. Evil is made, not born. People can change. Love and family bind people together and triumphs over all. There is always hope. Life is a story, lived one day at a time.

The series is over, but Once Upon a Time lives on, in the hearts and minds of the fandom. Thanks to Netflix and on demand viewing, the whole series can be watched again…and again…and new insights gained. In Storybrooke, and in my imagination, the characters live on, happily ever after.

The End of the Story

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

I welcomed a break this afternoon, and took time to sip on lemon balm tea and sketch in my Manga Artist’s Workbook. This helpful sketchbook full of lessons, by Christopher Hart, has been fun to practice in, and my skills continue to improve.

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

Today’s lesson was the Teen Boy, Three Quarters View.

This angle of the face is the most challenging for me. I tend to want to skip over it. However, it’s so important for me to take a deep breath, let go of resistance, and just draw.

I’m grateful for the outlines that the workbook provides. It helps me to correctly place the guidelines so I can sketch out the facial features. I’ve peeked ahead. These outlines will disappear soon!

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

Compared to the Manga Teen Girl, the Boy has a thinner face and smaller eyes. The nose and mouth are barely suggested. The ear is slightly larger than the girl’s.

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

The ear gets some details. I used to hide ears behind hair. I’ve about got the hang of drawing them now. The eyes get their highlights, before the pupils are added. And a shaggy hairstyle, that follows the contours of the skull, completes the top of the head.

The finished sketch is pictured below. I’m happy with it! The three quarters view gives me pause, however, I benefit from the challenge.

I have two more angles to draw, for the teen boy’s face…and then it’s on to body work and poses. I’m getting there!

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

You can purchase The Manga Artist’s Workbook by clicking the link below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

Every day of the year, there are unusual holidays one can celebrate. I discovered a website during my Year of Firsts in 2014, that lists them and I check in occasionally, out of curiosity. I have never perused the list, apparently, on May 16, because I’ve never heard of Turn Beauty Inside Out Day.

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day was founded in 2000 by New Moon: A Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams. Celebrated on the third Wednesday in May, the intention is to help girls expand definitions of beauty, from outer to inner.

There is a need to have meaningful conversations with each other and our children and grandchildren about what defines true beauty. It’s hard to compete, culturally, with tv shows, movies and ads that equate beauty with thinness, but we start with education in our homes, communities and schools.

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

In doing research for this post, I read alarming statistics.

• 50% of 9 year old girls and 80% of 10 year girls diet, which can harm their health because they are not getting enough of the right nutrients.

• The #1 wish for girls 11-17 is to be thinner.

• More than 5 million Americans suffer from eating disorders.

• 90% of those affected by eating disorders are adolescent girls and young women.

• Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer or losing their parents.

What can we do to help?

• We have to stop shaming people for body shape and size. Off hand comments about Aunt Rose’s weight or snide remarks about a movie character’s shape or a joke about the store clerk’s appearance sends the wrong message about the importance of outer beauty to children and creates a standard for being thin and for everyone to look the same.

• Don’t criticize your own body. Kids adopt their parents’ attitudes about physical beauty. Be an example of healthy self love and care.

• Express appreciation often for inner beauty. Say, “You are beautiful because… you make me laugh…you love animals…you care about others…you stand up for people…etc. • Screen movies and tv shows to eliminate those that promote outer beauty. • Write to newspapers, school boards, advertisers and tv shows, advocating an emphasis on programs for inner beauty.Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

I love the idea behind this celebratory day. I found out about it late in the afternoon, however now that I know about this annual day of awareness, I will make plans to be involved at a higher level next year.

I am one who focuses on creating health, from the inside out. I would love to partner with schools or organizations and help to get the message to young girls, and boys, that beauty, like health, begins within. Rather than focusing on dieting, which has a high failure rate and can be detrimental to health, I would encourage kids and teens to focus on nourishing their bodies with life sustaining foods. When we are healthy, we feel good, and everything else falls into place.

I have a preteen granddaughter, and young great nieces, that need to hear that beauty begins inside. And I know, because I have grandsons as well, that boys are not immune to feeling unhappy with the way they look. This is a message we all need to hear, children and adults, females and males. I’ll be working toward plans for next year. I hope you will join me. We can start by all wearing our shirts inside out, as a fun outward declaration that we are beautiful…inside.

Turn Beauty Inside Out Day

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Greg and I journeyed to southwest Arkansas this morning, to meet up later in the day with Cousin Pam. While waiting for her to be available, we checked the Rogers area, looking for a park to walk in.

Using Google, I discovered the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, located a bit further south near Fayetteville. As I scrolled down through the Garden’s info, I saw they were featuring an art exhibit called Reclaimed Surfaces. The artist’s name leapt out at me and I laughed. We had found the perfect place to spend a couple of hours.

The featured artist was Gregory Moore.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Greg initially thought I was playing a trick on him, when I showed him the exhibit and the featured artist. Then he agreed we had to explore the garden and check out this artist’s paintings.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, located at 4703 N. Crossover Road in Fayetteville, is laid out with unique, individual gardens around the perimeter of a huge grassy lawn. There are 12 distinct garden areas, and 11 other points of interests including a children’s play area, a butterfly pavilion and a peace arbor. Tickets are $7 per person to tour the gardens.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks The Japanese Garden.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks The Vegetable & Herb Garden

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Can you find the “kid” in the Children’s Garden entrance?

I found much to delight me…in the Children’s Garden! It was so whimsical, so playful. There weren’t any kids around, since this was a school day, so we played. I climbed into the treehouse while Greg checked out the barn loft.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

I rescued the crawdad, pictured above on the rock, after nearly stepping on him. He was far from the water, crossing a hot sidewalk. I returned him to water’s edge.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Greg posing with a Gregory Moore painting.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Reclaimed Surfaces Collection by Gregory Moore.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks The Four Seasons Garden. That’s wisteria covering the tall dome.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Shade Garden

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Dogwood in bloom

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Rock & Water Garden

I’m so glad we found this gorgeous place. The skies were overcast and the breeze pleasant, creating the perfect conditions for strolling through the various gardens. I inhaled the sweet fragrances of showy flowers and inhaled the beauty as well. How restorative a garden is.

Greg and I sat for a time, on a huge wooden swing overlooking the Ozark Native Garden. I felt inspired by the creativity expressed around me. I gathered ideas to take home with me, rather than flowers. My garden is small, compared to this sprawling place, and yet it offers beauty and peace and inspiration as well.

I will return to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks soon, to be further enchanted.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Glory of Gardening

I experienced the incredible joy of being in gardening mode all day. My mom and I visited Sutherland’s Saturday morning, for their final half price sale. We arrived at the store’s garden center at 6:43…and there was already a long line of customers, eager for the gate to open at 7:00. We joined the crowd…and found all we were looking for!

I got very little done over the weekend, with those colorful flowers. However, I was up early this morning, ready to get everything planted before thunderstorms roll into the area tonight. What a full and beautiful day in the garden.

The Glory of Gardening

My garden lagged behind this year, hampered by a cold early spring. I learned much about patience and accepting what was this spring, as day after day I inspected the garden for signs of life. Just as plants began to emerge, and a few buds appeared, another cold weekend with below freezing temperatures shut the garden down. I was afraid I had lost plants. I had to be okay with that.

The Glory of Gardening

Today I couldn’t tell that the garden overslept. Colorful blooms are appearing at last, the empty patches of ground are filling in and although I was delayed in planting in the many containers scattered about, I remedied that today.

Here’s a peek into my personal paradise.

The Glory of Gardening

This ancient azalea bush, transplanted from Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas, was budding when the cold touched it. Those early buds shriveled up. I am so grateful it survived. It’s putting on a spectacular show now.

The Glory of Gardening

The beauty of using annuals in the containers is that I can totally change the look of the garden each year. I opted for lots of color this season, focusing primarily on yellows, oranges and pinks. It feels very celebratory, an acknowledgment of perseverance.

The Glory of Gardening

All the containers were filled. I used zinnias, snapdragons, portulaca, and vinca. The potted plants on the metal shelf beneath the workshop window were moved to the rusty wire basket across the yard, where they will receive less sunlight. Potted vincas took their place.

The Glory of Gardening

The hostas are huge this year and filling in nicely. I used colorful flowers in the meditation area for the first time, instead of white blooms. And the southern border looks amazing. It will be a sea of purples, pinks and yellows soon.

The Glory of Gardening

For five years, I’ve used an old picnic table, made by Grandpa Moore in the early 60s, as a potting table. It has served me well, although the height was a bit low for me. To ease my back, I’d end up sitting on one of the attached benches as I worked.

Today, Greg finished a special project for me. He made me a potting bench, cleverly repurposing wooden pallets that he’s saved. I love it! Although Greg kept apologizing that the potting bench wasn’t fancy, I think it is absolutely perfect for my needs. And I appreciate that he recycled materials that he had, rather than purchasing new boards.

The Glory of Gardening

The potting bench looks adorable, with my hand tools hanging conveniently across the top. I now have a place to display two vintage water sprinklers that are so cool looking. I’ve yet to try them out in the garden, but I will!

I am grateful for Greg’s generosity. He has contributed greatly to the backyard garden. In doing so, he has been a supporter of my dreams and vision for this sanctuary.

The Glory of Gardening

I completed all that I set out to do today. I have a whole flat of flowers left over, that will go into various containers that are currently tucked away. In the meantime, those bright blooms have the perfect resting place on my new bench.

English poet Alfred Austin wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

I experienced all of those nurturing things today, and by the end of the afternoon I was a sweaty, dirty, happy mess. It was glorious, indeed.

The Glory of Gardening

Where My Story Began

I saw the perfect meme yesterday, to build a Sunday Short around. Today is Mother’s Day, and not only is the quote I found perfect for this special holiday, it contains my word for 2018.

Where My Story Began

Where My Story Began

The truth of those words resonated with me. Whatever our mothers’ stories were before our births, when we arrived new stories began. Think of it as a spin-off story. The original story is crucial to the development of the next one.

The mother remains a central character in her child’s story. Whether that mom leaves, willing or unwillingly, whether she is a super mom, a horrible mom, or somewhere in between, her story continues to affect her offspring.

Where My Story Began

I recognize that my mom’s life, her story, has had a huge impact on my journey. I am grateful that she has been a constant presence in my life, guiding me through early childhood, helping me navigate the turbulent teen years, and there to offer support and encouragement when I shifted into adulthood and became a mother myself.

We don’t always see things the same way. However, I do listen to what my mom has to say. Her years of experience, as a strong woman, as a single mom for a time, as a successful business woman, as a world traveler, as a storyteller and author, are incredibly valuable as I write the story of my own journey.

Where My Story Began

This afternoon I spent time with Mom. We chatted, and toured her backyard, looking at her plants and flowers. We discussed recipes and health and making tea from freshly picked herbs. So much of who I am has roots in who my mother is. I am grateful to be her daughter, her firstborn.

As our entwined stories continue, I look forward to more shared adventures, whether they take us to foreign countries together or deeper within our relationship or into unknown, unexplored terrain. I appreciate that my mother gave me life and figuratively penned my life story that began with the words, Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Cindy…

It’s been an interesting and beautiful story Mom…and I’ve already claimed my happily ever after. Let’s write more chapters in our stories, together.

Where My Story Began

Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

I was excited this morning, when I spied a post from Joplin’s new indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema. The political satire film, The Death of Stalin, was playing this weekend! This is a movie I’ve been aware of for several months. The reviews have been excellent however, I figured I’d have to catch it later on Netflix.

Not so! Bookhouse listed movie times. I was in the full theater for the 4:15 showing this afternoon.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin stars Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, Adrian McLoughlin, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Paul Whitehouse, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend and Paul Chahidi. This dark comedy, directed by Armando Iannucci, is rated R for adult themes, language and violence, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. The movie is adapted from the comic book by the same name, written by Thierry Robin and Fabien Nury. Iannucci co-wrote the screenplay.

The movie begins in March 1953. As he listens to a recording of a concert, and reads a note from an unhappy citizen, Josef Stalin (McLoughlin), doubles over in pain and falls to the floor. When he is found, barely clinging to life, the senior members of his Council of Ministers hastily gather to make important, far reaching decisions. As they jockey for power and position, Stalin dies…and chaos ensues.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin

The Council Members include Nikita Khrushchev (Buscemi), Deputy Malenkov (Tambor) who will assume leadership, Anastas Mikoyan (Whitehouse), Vyacheslav Molotov (Palin), Nicolai Bulganin (Chahidi), and Lavrenti Beria (Beale), head of the secret police.

Even though Malenkov steps into authority, he is beset by indecision and swings between emotional highs and lows. This polarizes the rest of the Council Members. Beria, a ruthless man who is responsible for the death of millions, has his own agenda, designed to seize control. The others attempt to safeguard their own lives while wavering between Malenkov and Beria.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin

Stalin’s children arrive to further add to the confusion. Daughter Svetlana (Riseborough) mourns her father and tries to keep her alcoholic brother Vasily (Friend) in check. And Field Marshall Zhukov (Isaacs) brings the stoic discipline of the military into the mix as the uncertainty within the council spills over to the country.

After Stalin’s funeral, the tension between the quarreling would-be leaders comes to a head, forcing decisions to be made that will affect a nation.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin

This was an amazing indie film. What can’t be discerned from my bare bones description above, is that this film is a comedy…a dark one, but full of humor nonetheless. The casting is brilliant, with great energy between the actors. The director made the decision early on to allow the actors to speak in their own accents, rather than attempt Russian ones. The result is Russian historical characters speaking in a mix of English and American accents…and it works.

The portrayals of these players struggling for power after Stalin’s death is over the top, which creates much of the humor, and yet they accurately convey historical events. I always fact check after watching a movie based on real people and real events. The Death of Stalin gets the important details in, although they compress the timeline somewhat.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin

I was amazed to discover that some of the craziest scenes were true! The concert that had to be repeated, after locking the audience into the room, happened…a bit differently than portrayed but Stalin did request a recording of the performance. After failing to set up the recording equipment, the radio manager made the musicians repeat the concert so that Stalin got his record.

Many people in Stalin’s Russia did crazy things, because they were afraid. The dark part of this comedy is realizing that the fear the people lived in was real. Being in the wrong place, witnessing the wrong thing, displeasing those in authority resulted in immediate execution, or worse, a slow torturous death at the hands of Beria and his men.

As a satire, this film works incredibly well. The humor is needed, or this would be a heavy movie to watch. I appreciated being able to break the tension through laughter. And I appreciated as well the glimpse into another country’s history. It’s good to be reminded occasionally of what has transpired in the past so that history does not repeat itself because we are unaware.

I look forward to seeing what Armando Iannucci presents next.

Movie Review The Death of Stalin