Sergei Loznitsa's film reveals this showcase state terror machine created by Stalin to legitimize his power. Thanks to carefully selected and restored black-and-white archival footage, we get a glimpse of a trial in which everyone deliberately lied - from the defendants to the witnesses to the judges. We watch fabricated testimony combined with excerpts from footage of demonstrations against the French prime minister during a trial that was watched by crowds of people.
The defendants testify against each other, and the emphasis is on a predetermined and planned verdict. The trial resembles a theatrical performance. Sergei Loznitsa's film immerses us in the totalitarian reality of the Soviet Union. This fascinating example of documentary found footage in a Kafkaesque style turns out to be extremely topical today, when fake news and propaganda are created by various governments to achieve their political goals.