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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Traditional narrative; great footage. See more (8 total) »


 (Series Cast [1])

Nigel Hawthorne ... Himself - Narrator (unknown episodes, 1997)

Series Writing credits
Richard Overy (unknown episodes, 1997)

Series Original Music by
Stanislas Syrewicz (4 episodes)


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8 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
Traditional narrative; great footage., 14 August 2000
Author: Alice Liddel ( from dublin, ireland

This is the kind of old-style documentary that is now widely discredited by the discerning, but hugely popular with audiences who feel they should know something about history, but don't want to think too rigorously about it. Wildly diverse snatches of archive footage are authoratively cohered by a single, autonomous, godlike voice (Nigel Hawthorne - and who could be more reassuring and trustworthy than Sir Humphrey?). The difficulties, ambiguities, contradictions, ellipses of history are ironed out into a flat, easily disgestible, historically negligible narrative. Prejudices are pandered to, witnesses and documents are only invoked if they fit the official line, and are not properly identified. The audience is assumed to be imbecilic, so we are repeatedly reminded how 'evil' Stalin was, and how 'mad' Hitler. Just in case you'd forgotten. There is something dubiously sensationalist and leering about a climactic montage of Hilter's remains, his teeth and skull.

This is what is known as Great Man history, the sort of thing you read in schoolbooks- major figures do things, the amorphous masses suffer. The episode I saw recently, 'Fall of the Swastika', despite the series title, was more about Germany than Russia. This kind of history is, ironically, ahistorical - by removing processes, archival research and oral testimony (what little there is is self-serving and mawkish), you are left with almost abstracted folklore. Compare this to Lawrence Rees' recent documentary on Stalingrad, flawed maybe, but bursting with intelligent documentary strategies, exhaustive detail and a willingness to acknowledge the intelligence of the viewer: it also leaves you reeling in sickening horror.

This documentary has almost no detail whatsoever, for fear of overwhelming the viewer with too much information. Indeed the whole thing would be reprehensible if it wasn't for the marvellous, shocking footage: seeing legendary history in the raw is always a disturbing frisson, and while many of the films seem remarkably sophisticated in editing and composition for traumatic on-the-spot incidents, no amount of cod-narrative can blunt the thrill of seeing a white-jacketed Stalin in colour joking with Truman and Churchill, the vile wonder of blazing German cities, the terror of concentration camps and firing squads.

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