The Death of Stalin trailer reveals a madcap Russian power grab

Everybody wants to rule the USSR in the first trailer for the newest project from prolific Scottish political satirist Armando Iannucci. After stepping away from showrunning duties on HBO's Veep in 2015, the writer-director is plunging the depths of history for material with The Death of Stalin, based on a graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin. 

Revolving around the uncertain time following the sudden passing of dictator Joseph Stalin, The Death of Stalin follows his core advisers as they jostle for control of the nation, trying to both influence the future of the Soviet Union while protecting their own necks. Iannucci discussed the material with The Hollywood Reporter as the film was entering production, saying, "It's sort of funny, but there's an air of tension underneath it as well. We've gone back and dug out a lot of the jokes that were used around Stalin's time, which if you were caught saying then would have [gotten] you shot." 

While the interactions between characters are likely to be as bitingly funny as any horrifically rude exchange from Veep or The Thick of It, Iannucci said the story itself will be slightly weightier than material he has dealt with before. "What I'm very keen to do is make something that is not necessarily a comedy. I think people will laugh. But I also want to make it a tense experience as well in certain moments."

Returning to movies for the first time since 2009's contemporary political farce In The Loop, the trailer sees Iannucci populating the Soviet Union in 1953 with the same sorts of power-hungry, profane backstabbers that have come to define his work, with an ensemble cast that includes Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Andrea Riseborough, and Rupert Friend. 

The Death of Stalin will screen in September at the Toronto International Film Festival before arriving in U.K. theaters on Oct. 20. It will be distributed in North America by IFC Films on an unannounced date. 

While you keep an eye out for it, check out some of the best films of 2017 you may have missed.