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Russia - Land of the Tsars

4.2 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Its forests stretch from Europe to the Pacific. Its winters have vanquished the mightiest armies ever mustered. Its people have borne the excesses of some of history's most notorious rulers. RUSSIA: LAND OF THE TSARS illuminates the imperial past of the world's largest nation. At the heart of this epic tale are the figures whose names have become legend: Ivan the Terrible who expanded the empire at the rate of 50 miles-and innumerable lives-a day; Peter the Great whose sweeping reforms westernized the nation; and Catherine the Great whose rule was marked by conquest change and controversy. Filmed on location throughout Russia enriched by exclusive visits to important sites and museums and filled with commentary from renowned scholars this is a kaleidoscopic captivating portrait of a land that has endured centuries of despair and rebellion innovation and conflict. DVD Features: 3 Episodes of A&E's Award-Winning Series Biography: Peter the Great: The Tyrant Reformer Ivan the Terrible: Might and Madness Rasputin: The Mad Monk; Tsar Timeline; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

From the Back Cover

Its forests stretch from Europe to the Pacific. Its winters have vanquished the mightiest armies ever mustered. Its people have borne the excesses of some of history's most notorious rulers. RUSSIA: LAND OF THE TSARS illuminates the imperial past of the world's largest nation. At the heart of this epic tale are the figures whose names have become legend: Ivan the Terrible, who expanded the empire at the rate of 50 miles--and innumerable lives--a day; Peter the Great, whose sweeping reforms westernized the nation; and Catherine the Great, whose rule was marked by conquest, change and controversy. Filmed on location throughout Russia, enriched by exclusive visits to important sites and museums, and filled with commentary from renowned scholars, this is a kaleidoscopic, captivating portrait of a land that has endured centuries of despair and rebellion, innovation and conflict.

Special Features

  • 3 bonus episodes of A&E's Biography series: Peter the Great The Tyrant Reformer, Ivan the Terrible Might and Madness, Rasputin The Mad Monk
  • Tsar timeline

Product Details

  • Actors: Edward Herrmann, Michelle Maryk, Ronnie Farer, Henry Strozier, Steve Ahern
  • Producers: Beth Dietrich, Denise Williams, Doug Shultz, Elana Bluestine, Hilary Sio
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2003
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000096FU4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,702 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Russia - Land of the Tsars" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 1, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This documentary is fascinating in its sweep of the complex history of Russia, though the production is not top notch, and relies heavily on poorly filmed re-enactments, mostly of just hands, feet, and horses hooves, and repeated shots of lightning streaking across the sky, or blood dripping on the floor, to emphasize the drama of a scene. It is peppered with interviews with professors and historians, who provide intriguing insights into the methods and habits of the Tsars.
The first tape starts out by giving the lay of the immense land, and the rivers that were the roadways in the early days of this "nation of many nations", the Mongol invasions, Prince Vladimir, who was the first powerful leader and brought the people together using religion as the unifying force, and then moves on to the lives of the Tsars.
Visually, the final tape is the best, because it includes extraordinary, rare, early 20th century photos and films, of events like the war with Japan, and personages like Lenin. Perhaps the most incredible, poignant footage is of "Bloody Sunday", that shows the peaceful marchers being shot down. Those familiar with David Lean's version of "Doctor Zhivago", will recognize this tragic episode of history that was such a memorable scene in the film.
It has an excellent, atmospheric score by Gary Pozner, which has occasional echoes of Moussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, and greatly enhances and adds emotional impact to this documentary. Written and produced by Don Campbell, and narrated by Edward Herrmann, this is an easy way to digest a lot of history, and for those interested in Russia, I also recommend James Billington's superb "The Face of Russia".
Winston Churchill said "Russia is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma", and watching this documentary helps to shed some light on the puzzle that is the great and beautiful land of Russia.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was looking for an introduction to Russian history to supplement a book that I had read. I found it in this two-volume DVD set. The first was exactly that, a tracing of Russian history through the fall of the tsars. It didn't go that deep, but it was just what I was looking for. The second DVD, which had several episodes of PBS "Biography", was a pleasant surprise to me - I hadn't expected it. It gave additional insights into Russia's most prominent characters of history, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, as well as Rasputin.

My dayghter, a college history major, was taking an upper-level course entitled "The Romanov Years". She felt that this DVD set really helped crystallize the basic things for her so that she could more easily understand the more advanced topics in the course.
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Format: DVD
That, sadly, is what stood out in my mind the most as far as quality goes. The "background" music plays very loudly, and the narrator, at times, speaks rather softly in comparison. There are no subtitles to help you along, so I often had to put up with blaring (and oddly techno) music in order to hear the narration.
The makers obviously love their historical reenactments, which is all well and good, most of the time. However, they do tend to reuse items repeatedly, and not always in the right places. A painting of Ivan the Terrible holding his son's body is also used to represent Peter the Great torturing his victims. A painting of a mother holding a baby is said to show the births of both Ivan the Terrible, and Peter the Great's first son. And so on, in several more instances. Well, which is it?
While the documentaries had nothing new to say to me (because I've done extensive reading on the Romanov dynasty), it is a good introduction to Russian history. The A&E Biographies of Ivan, Peter, and Rasputin were also well done. Let's say, 3.5 stars.
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Format: DVD
I was honestly suprised to see how many reviewers gave negative comments regarding Russia - Land of the Tsars DVD. There are certainly repetitive clips, but I found that overall, the entire DVD was a good introduction for a first time student or someone who wanted a visual history of the Russian Tsars.

I rented the DVD from my library, and watched both volumes on the weekend. There are two DVDs in all, volume one covering the entire history of the Tsars, and volume two featuring stories on Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Rasputin (from Tsar Nicholas II's reign).

The first volume, although it covers such an immense range of material, is done well. Of course, the notable Tsars like Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great are described in better detail. However, I agree that there are rehashed clips, and some of the renactments are merely clips of horsemen banging swords around (with the camera showing closeups of these swords).

Volume two, although about the Russian Tsars, seems dissimilar to volume one in some respects. While Vol. I was done by the History Channel, Vol. II contains episodes from A&E's biography. Thus, there are a few conflicts between the stories on Vol. I and II. For example, Vol. I emphasized Peter the Great's half sister, Sophia, more in the history of his youth. But in Vol. II, you don't get a sense that Sophia was important at all. And although Ivan the Terrible is one of the three figures on Vol. II, there are missing elements to his story that are captured with more depth in Vol. I.

The only thing that really frustrated me was how Vol. II used the

same clips from previous stories.
Read more ›
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