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World War II: Behind Closed Doors (2009)

Aleksey Petrenko , Bob Gunton  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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World War II: Behind Closed Doors + Russia's War, Blood Upon the Snow: The History of the Stalin Years (1924-1953) + Battlefield Russia: The Eastern Front! 3 DVD Set!
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Product Details

  • Actors: Aleksey Petrenko, Bob Gunton, Paul Humpoletz, Samuel West, Valeriy Zhakov
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 2009
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TKK3KM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,942 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "World War II: Behind Closed Doors" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Joseph Stalin - the supreme leader of the Soviet Union - was a tyrant responsible for the death of millions. Yet he also had some unlikely relationships during the Second World War. Not just with leaders of the great democracies like Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, but also with Hitler and the Nazis. For the first time on television, this ambitious series from award-winning filmmaker Laurence Rees uses exclusive evidence gained from the actual conversations and secret meetings Stalin conducted with Roosevelt, Churchill and Hitler, to dramatically reveal the true natures of the three leaders and how the meetings they had - and the decisions they made - shaped the world today.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing series very well made May 15, 2009
This is 20th century history that we, as Americans, are by and large fairly ignorant of. Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and Battle of the Bulge have obscured our knowledge of the most devastating and in many ways more significant aspects of World War II on the eastern front. The dramatized sections are excellently produced and portrayed, which only the BBC seems to be able to do so well. It gives us a glimpse of the power dealing leading to some of the most violent and tragic consequences of the war. Highly recommended.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY TRUE DEPICTION OF THE MONSTER: STALIN August 27, 2009
Brand new book on this topic: No Place to Call Home, The Memories of a Polish Survivor of the Soviet Gulag - incredible story,i,e., just when you thought you read it all. Polish suffering finally coming to the surface and recognized.

Should be in every library and school. The great documentary by Britsh historian Rees is a great tool for balancing all the preveous distortions of history, espacially about Poland, which deserves to be thanked and recognized as a nation that suffered os horribly and fought so bravely.

On the same theme, view Katyn about the 25,000 Polish officers Stalin had tied and shot. Also read: No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945

Rees' film is a great balancer and long overdue to portray history from a correct perspective.

Also related and superb: Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum, "The Book," on gulags.

One more: Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947

All worth it, if this era interests you. These are some of the best.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing the truth May 15, 2009
I would say that this is probably the first time I have seen a report on the vital role the Poles played in World War II and the first to give them the credit they have long deserved. It even intimates that Churchill does not go scot-free when it comes to the duplicitous role he played in turning them over from one tyranny to another. Add to that his refusal to allow them to participate in the victory parade in London.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The part of WWII most Americans are not aware of January 1, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I started my intense review of WWII in 2009. I have viewed several hundred DVDs by now. I spend last weekend looking at this series. It is everything it says it is. As a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s I knew virtually nothing about Russia's part in WWII. With this DVD set you will understand better the start of WWII in Europe. You will understand the deal that Germany worked out with Russia two weeks before the War began. You will understand the poor Polish people who were just pawns in German and Russian minds. You see how ruthless both of these countries were. I now understand the deep hate these countries had for each other during the war. We lost almost a half million men in WWII; Russia lost almost 30 million people!! This DVD set makes me thankful that WWII was never fought on the US continent. Most of us have no idea how much the peoples of Europe suffered during the war. This series will make you thankful you live in a democracy instead of a country ruled by dictators. Although the series was not about American involvement in the war, it opened my eyes to all that happened on the "Eastern Front". If you want to understand more about "why" the war started, this is a must DVD series.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a welcomed reappraisal of Churchill February 2, 2011
I don't see much mentioned in the reviews here that this film incorporates information from Soviet files not available until the 1990s. One important outcome is a new and welcomed delineation of the lying duplicity of Churchill, his involvement in handing half of Europe to Stalin, sentencing the eastern bloc nations to half a century of Stalinist suffering. On the whole, the film presents a view of history distinct from that motorically regurgitated in the West. The dramatised scenes are theatrically believable, and serve as a useful artifice to carry the piece toward that admirable end. Poland's crucifixion is always centerpiece, much of her wartime history well known, division by Germany and Russia etc. but the callous designs of the allied powers in that sacrifice are schooled in this piece with a new cold clarity. An effort worthy on many counts, not least the service of history, and a substantive look at the multiple faces of evil. Recommended for its severe accomplishment.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great use of Russian actors June 12, 2009
This fascinating dramatic documentary examines the personal relationships and secret meetings that shaped the course and outcome of World War II. While new revelations are few and hardly earth-shattering, the manner of presentation -'mixing archived films and interviews with dramatic interpretations of summit meetings and key events -'makes this an entertaining, engaging series.

Extremely compelling is the use of native actors (instead of Americans or Brits mangling foreign languages), led by the distinguished Russian actor Alexei Petrenko (who, over a 40-year career has played everyone from Svidri­gailov to Peter I to Rasputin) in the role of Stalin (pictured above). The dramatic renditions are all the more fascinating when heard in the original language, as in Churchill's exchange with Stalin:

Churchill:' What did you do with all the kulaks?
Stalin:''' ''My ikh perebili''''''''. (We terminated them.)

As with any serialized documentary Behind Closed Doors often suffers from repetition of scripts and imagery across episodes, but this is overshadowed by the well-drawn characterizations, be it Stalin's Georgian-accented Russian, Ribbentrop's contemptuous gaze, Churchill's inane analogies, or Roosevelt's yearning to be liked. (As reviewed in Russian Life)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by aida w.
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended for Those Who Wish to Understand Why History is an...
Fascinating accounts of USSR's involvement in WWII and the origins of the Cold War ... superb editing and acting as well !
Published 3 months ago by bbell12
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT DVD with a different POV of WWII
I read the book and caught the series many moons ago on public TV. It reveals an aspect to WWII that largely goes unknown. Read more
Published 4 months ago by E. Calimag
4.0 out of 5 stars Very strong series with curious anti-Western bias
I don't normally enjoy documentary series that feature dramatized scenes, yet I found this English series very impressive. Read more
Published 5 months ago by History buff
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative! Everybody should watch!
EXCELLENT! Watching lines being drawn on countries behind closed doors was just upsetting!
This was a very informative documentary! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Goat Lovin' Mama
5.0 out of 5 stars Polish Problem
Poland has the same problem as Korea to strong neighbors: Russia and Germany. Poland has been their battleground since the earliest of times and suffered for it. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Doug Characky
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
With a perfectly cast Stalin, this series gives you arguably the most important information on these events - ow things felt. The atmosphere of the meetings. Read more
Published 19 months ago by S.H.
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind Closed Doors: World War II
Unusual program series that focus on each of the various leaders of each nation. I truly like this a lot and it gave us new perspectives and information. - Prof Michael Haller
Published 20 months ago by Michael Haller
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs more subtitles.
Im not going to get into much details but this DVD was great. The information given and the production itself is superb. Now can anyone help me find one with spanish subs? Read more
Published on September 11, 2012 by Marcos D. Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars World War II: Behind Closed Doors
I read the book and then watched the DVD. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the DVD so much. I learned things I didn't know and I thought the acting was superb. Read more
Published on March 11, 2012 by Harry Taylor
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