IMDb > "Russia's War: Blood Upon the Snow" (1997)

"Russia's War: Blood Upon the Snow" (1997) More at IMDbPro »TV mini-series 1997-


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Richard Overy (book) (1997)
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Excellent, Haunting Documentary See more (8 total) »


 (Series Cast [1])

Nigel Hawthorne ... Narrator (1 episode, 1997)

Series Directed by
Ilia Gootman (1 episode)
Series Writing credits
Genrikh Borovik (1 episode)
Konstantin Slavin (1 episode)

Richard Overy (unknown episodes, 1997)

Series Produced by
Judith de Paul .... executive producer (1 episode)
Aleksandr Surikov .... executive producer (1 episode)
Series Original Music by
Stanislas Syrewicz (4 episodes)


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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
Excellent, Haunting Documentary, 1 June 2001
Author: wmarkley from Ohio

This is a tremendously moving documentary about suffering and sacrifices in the Soviet Union during the Stalin years. It includes little-seen film footage of the pre-World War II years, and striking images throughout. There are also interviews with survivors of the Gulags and World War II, and with some individuals who were directly acquainted with Stalin. The musical sound track nicely enhances the program, and I think that Nigel Hawthorne's dispassionate narration is very good--much more effective than a melodramatic reading would be. While the program is very educational, I also found it to be emotionally and intellectually gripping, and artfully done throughout.

Some of the marketing of "Russia's War" misleadingly suggests that it is entirely about the World War II years. While the program covers the war on the Russian Front in-depth, it also contains significant portions that describe the years before and after the war. This includes Stalin's consolidation of power, his attempts to establish a Communist industrial power, the purges and many other crimes committed by the Communist regime during his rule, and the end of Stalin. Sadly, many people outside of the former Warsaw Pact nations are much less acquainted with the atrocities of the Communists than with those which were committed by the Nazis. One of the reasons for this might be the relatively small amount of film footage of the Gulags and other Communist camps that has been shown in the West. "Russia's War" presents haunting images of persons being tried in Communist show trials, transported to labor camps, and working in slave labor projects (Anne Applebaum's book Gulag offers a useful history of the Gulag system, in case this documentary encourages you to read further). Also, watch for some film footage showing an assembly of Communists who are desperate to show their devotion to Stalin--it is a small yet clear example of the absurd level which Communist totalitarianism reached.

Much time is also spent on the World War II years, including the experiences of all levels of the military and civilians. Interviews are included with servicemen and women of various branches, resistance fighters, and several civilians. The major campaigns are covered, such as the opening of Barbarossa, the German drive towards Moscow, the Siege of Leningrad, the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, and the Soviet advance towards Germany. Some lesser-known incidents are described also, such as the self-sacrifice of some very young Soviet soldiers in front of Moscow. Pictures of these soldiers are shown while Hawthorne describes their fate, briefly but very movingly.

A little-known element of the war which is explored is the relationship between civilians, Soviet partisans and other resistance groups. Some resistance groups fought both the Nazis and the Soviets, and many civilians were also caught in the middle. While the Soviet partisans accomplished much against the Germans, many of them were far from being the heroes which Soviet propaganda claimed.

Other aspects of how Soviet civilians survived and died in the countryside and the cities are investigated, including the massive suffering of Jews under both Hitler and Stalin.

The program does not include interviews with Germans who were involved in the war and occupation in Russia, although this is to be expected because of the focus of the documentary. "Russia's War" does include a wealth of film footage showing the German military in action, and scenes behind the German lines.

It also presents one of the most haunting images of misery that I have seen: the face of a Soviet soldier who is wearily eating while on the march, and who looks towards the camera. Sadly, this program presents many other images which are comparable. At the same time, along with all of the misery and oppression that is documented, there are stories included that are deeply inspiring.

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