Summits (2008– )

TV Series  -  Documentary | History
7.3
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Title: Summits (2008– )

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Episodes

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1  
2008  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
David Reynolds ...
 Himself - Presenter (3 episodes, 2008)
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Release Date:

30 January 2008 (UK)  »

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£700,000 (estimated)
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User Reviews

 
Famous political meetings and their repercussions
3 June 2008 | by (Cork, Ireland) – See all my reviews

This documentary series takes as its premise that crucial moments in history really are dependent on the whims of powerful men and their meetings at political summits. Whether or not you agree with that, it is an interesting precisely because the reportage of summits has always been so completely smothered in propaganda and later revisionism that the actual personalities and events have been obscured.

Each episode focuses on a different meeting. The first covers Chamberlain-Hitler 1938-39, the second Kennedy-Krushchev 1960 and the final one, Reagan-Gorbachev, 1986.

The series is full of fascinating little details such as the fact that Kennedy was in constant pain and pumped full of amphetamines during the summit with Krushchev. Sometimes Reynolds analysis of the motivations of the participants are quite daring. For example Reynolds contends that Krushchev looked down on Kennedy because he reminded him of his wayward son Leonid who died in the war. Also he claims that Neville Chamberlain was partly motivated by rivalry with his half-brother Austen Chamberlain after the latter's success at Locarno. These assertions are probably unprovable, but they do yield novel insight into the personalities involved.

There are some quirks. For dramatic effect, Reynolds actually plays the characters himself, adopting a stern facial frown for Hitler and a Haavad accent for Kennedy. This actually works rather well but sometimes he takes it a bit too far, for example when he tries to imitate Jackie Kennedy.

It is unfashionable to view history through the personalities of great leaders. However, in my opinion, the series proved its case, personalities and relationship chemistry really do matter.


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