Terrific Four-Part Documentary on the Spiritual Rise and Fal
David Crumm | Canton, Michigan | 01/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary is great for individual viewing, but I also strongly recommend this film to teachers and small-group leaders, not only in courses on history and international relations, but for small-group discussion in congregations and libraries, community centers and seniors' groups.
This 2-disc set is a French-produced, 4-hour documentary on the rise and fall of communism around the world. Sound dull? It isn't.
In the nearly two decades that have passed since revolutions swept across eastern Europe and transformed the old-style communist world, archives have opened up and poured out a stunning wealth of documents, photographs and film footage. I'm a lifelong student of film and of documentaries in particular and I saw startling scenes in this film that I had never seen before.
Yes, the documentary was produced in France and there is a complete French narration. But there's also a solid English narration of the entire film that's just a "click" away in a "set up" screen. There are some scenes with subtitles, but mainly the action flows vividly with the English-language narrator orienting us to the historic events we're watching.
The film moves from Russia to the U.S., from eastern Europe to Cuba, from China to Vietnam. The producers made a huge effort to connect the communist dots all around the world.
The film's central assertion is: Although claiming to replace religion, communism itself became a major world faith. The film's central questions are: How could billions of people have fallen under the umbrella of a faith that either actively or passively led to the deaths of tens of millions under Stalin and Mao? What moved so many men and women to adopt the faith so passionately? And what finally tore away the veil of this faith?
Given that American Baby Boomers grew up in a world in which good and evil was defined by our teachers and civic leaders as a struggle with communism, this is a film series we all should watch. Plus, it's four-part format is perfectly divided for a month-long series of discussions in a small group. Invite group members to share their own recollections about each era either from their own experiences or those of their family and friends.