Within the Whirlwind

Within the Whirlwind Poster Art

LENGTH: 100 min
COUNTRY: Germany, Poland, Belgium
YEAR: 2009
GENRE: Historical Drama
DIRECTOR: Marleen Gorris
CAST: Emily Watson, Ulrich Tukur, Ian Hart, Benjamin Sadler, Agata Buzek, Ben Miller, Monica Dolan, Jimmy Yuill, Pam Ferris, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Pearce Quigley
CREW: PRODUCER: Christine Ruppert; SCREENWRITER: Nancy Larson, Based upon the memoir of Eugenia Ginzburg; CO-PRODUCERS: Piotr Mularuk, Hubert Toint; CINEMATAGRAPHER: Arkadiusz Tomiak; MUSIC: Wlodek Pawlik


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Ten years of imprisonment in a Soviet Gulag – this was endured by Eugenia Ginzburg, a teacher and writer, as she was swept up in one of Joseph Stalin’s brutal purges in the 1930’s as the dictator tightened his grip on the Soviet Union. Ginzburg survived and lived to tell about it. Though most Americans are familiar with the Nazi Holocaust, few are aware of similar purges that took place in other countries, such as the mass annihilation of millions of Soviet citizens as a result of Joseph Stalin’s intense desire to eliminate would-be political enemies. Thanks to the survivors, such as Ginzburg, there is a wealth of information and first-hand accounts of what entailed life in the Soviet Union’s version of a concentration camp, and what it took to survive. Within the Whirlwind is Eugenia Ginzburg’s story.

Born to a Jewish pharmacist in 1905, Eugenia and her husband lived in Kazan with their two children in 1937. Both Communist Party officials, Eugenia was suddenly arrested on charges of participating in a Trotskyist Counter Revolutionary group and hauled away to a notorious prison camp. Ginzburg endured years of imprisonment, hard labor, and brutal cold. She wrote two memoirs, Journey Into the Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind, on which our film is based. Starring Emily Watson, Ian Hart and Ulrich Tukur, this film is shot in the English language.

From Christine Ruppert, producer of The Last King Of Scotland, Marleen Gorris, Academy Award winning director of Antonia’s Line, and international star Emily Watson (Breaking The Waves, Hilary And Jackie, Angela’s Ashes,The Proposition, And Red Dragon), Within The Whirlwind bears witness to one woman’s tenacious will to survive even in the most desperate of circumstances.


By Ronnie Scheib

“Emily Watson’s stunning, all consuming performance sweeps all before it in a virtuoso interpretation of courage under fire.”

The Providence Phoenix
By Peter Keough

“Director Marleen Gorris (Antonia’s Line) conveys the frozen horrors with searing understatement, and Watson’s Ginzburg evokes, suffering, dignity, and strength.”


  • Buffalo International Film Festival