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Russia - Land of the Tsars
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From the Back Cover
- 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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extremely good documentary. I love historical documentaries and this is one of the best. Understanding the history of Russia is crucial as it demonstrates the struggle of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bob Gaebler
A well explained historical period of Russia , between the 13th and early 20th CenturiesPublished 18 months ago by Robert Bert
After visiting Russia my wife was very pleased to get this pack as a present.She watched the tapes often and enjoyed them very much.Published 19 months ago by Dave
I use this in History class. It is very good, The kids enjoyed itPublished 22 months ago by Carolyn R. Young
Good but would have liked something more comprehensive. Same scenes are often shown again and again. Read morePublished on March 10, 2014 by Leslie C. Coover