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The Lost World of Communism [DVD]

 Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 13 April 2009
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TUYUA6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,098 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Documentary that explores what the lives of ordinary people were like before the fall of communism in 1989. As the rush to freedom gathered pace throughout the Eastern Bloc countries, the way of life for millions of former communist citizens was about to change forever. But behind the stereotypical images of spies, the secret police and the Cold War, what was normal life like for the the average Soviet citizen, and was it really as bad as the West would have us believe? Peter Molloy talks to those who lived through the changes, and opens a door into a world that disappeared almost literally overnight.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
This short series doesn't try to be any sort of definitive history of Eastern Bloc Communism. Instead it offers a fascinating sneaky view of how life was really lived during the postwar decades by normal people behind the Iron Curtain.
Much of the footage is from personal archives, home movies, old photos, newsreels and old photos. It reveals how people actually coped, day to day, in repressive regiemes, sometimes under martial law, often being spied upon and with limited freedoms.

The episodes focus not on Russia itself but three satellite states: East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The personal footage is interspliced with official films, which show communist propaganda in all its glory -- young adults doing synchronised gymnastics in their thousands -- and the chilling reality of the show trial, where reformers are found guilty of treason before being shot.
The programmes also reveal that many of the ordinary folk felt more secure under the authoritarian governments of the past; they might have been repressed but at least they knew they would get hospital treatment, an education, and housing into their old age. It's chilling to compare this kind of wistful nostalgia with the horrific understanding that in Romania women were denied contraception and forced to have babies; inspected and humiliated every month to make sure they weren't hiding a pregnancy.

Some of this footage is impossibly silly, and makes these old regiemes look ridiculous to modern, Western eyes. But much of it is sinister and scary; the Secret Police who kept one civil rights leader under supervision didn't bother to hide: they had a shed in the field next to his house.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC Documentary Making at its VERY BEST 2 Sep 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have taught International Law and International Relations all over the World. I have lived and visited every country of the Eastern Bloc. I still lecture in the USA and Russia. So I also have a vast experience of living and talking to people of this era. The series is incredible and eye opening and is based on truth, that today is hard to believe, unless you experienced it I saw when the Wall came down.

The DVD is 3 hours long and has 3 documentaries looking separately at Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. Each programme examines the different experiences of people from all strata of the given society and what happened in each of the countries from the inception of communist rule. It is the real life stories, incredible film from the actual era, plus the historical context explained by the narrator with the brilliant editing, that makes this DVD so good. I actually use it in my American classes to try and show the current student what life was like behind the Iron Curtain.

It is a brilliant teaching aid and enthralling documentary that anyone with an interest in this era of history or subject matter will find fascinating.

Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad, Bad & Sad 3 Sep 2009
This is a delightful BBC series (well, three one-hour documentaries) on Communist Germany, Czechoslovakia & Romania, 1945-89. It uses newsreels, film and TV from the communist era to show us the crushing insanity of this political system. I grew up at the height of the Cold War and NOBODY thought the Soviet Union (Communist Russia) would collapse, not with an atomic bang, with a whimper. We had no clue what was going on the other side of the Iron Curtain. These programmes go some way to showing us what life was like in these totalitarian regimes. I loved this series: I only wish there had been more. I would like them to look at Communist Hungary and Soviet Russia.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The BBC's lost opportunity. 7 Feb 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This series was far too short to do anything other than scratch the surface of some of the communist satellite states, and what it misses out and ignores left me feeling utterly baffled. Why do something at all if you can't do it properly? We are given just three programmes here, one on East Germany, one for Hungary/Czechoslovakia, and then one for Romania, each 50 minutes long and all of which have to race through their subject matter like a train passing through a station.

The first episode (or station) is East Germany. We see a few people and their lives, but it's what we don't see that annoyed me. It would have been fine if there was another two or three more GDR programmes coming up, but of course there wasn't. Over the past few months I've been working my way through books on the Berlin Wall, and subsequently the rise and fall of communism throughout Europe and the former USSR, and feel tempted to send my collection on to the production team behind this programme - or maybe I'll just send them to the BBC drone who commissioned the programme and allowed no budget whatsoever to explore the subject better.
Sadly the producer opted to show as many naked Germans as possible rather than relevant politicians and families. We start off with a naked student filming himself being 'arty', we get naked volleyball on a beach, we get a hippy couple who like filming themselves in the buff everywhere, there's a naked parade later on, and then an animator who made a rude short film using crude puppets. Why show all that nonsense for so much of the programme when there's so much else to have included? What about those who tried to escape over the Wall, or had a family member shot, or organised the escapes of others? Could any old tunnels have been shown, perhaps? What about the black market?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but only three countries are included
Only three episodes, not enough.. Unique video clips can be seen. One is left with the desire to see more.
Published 16 months ago by Hugo
4.0 out of 5 stars Life behind the Iron Curtain
Good documentary about the collapse of Communism in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania - looking at how people survived / conformed under these dictatorships and at people's... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Seoulprovider
1.0 out of 5 stars What a Shocker!
I gave this poor production 1 star only because the 'producers' turned up to make it. The whole production is just plain awful.Save your money on this one and give it a miss. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Thomas D. Knight
2.0 out of 5 stars Less is Less
It feels churlish to only award two stars to such an entertaining documentary, but I felt that all I got was a brief glimpse of what could have been a superb series, if someone at... Read more
Published on 26 July 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and entertaining.
Amazing footage, brilliant narrative and beautifully convened. The series are not long at all nevertheless they are relevant, succint and interesting. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2011 by Castor
5.0 out of 5 stars More please..
Excellent docu.about the 3 countries,DDR,Romania and Czechoslovakia..having visited most Iron curtain contries during the 60's-70's,this DVD brought a tear to my eye... Read more
Published on 8 July 2011 by Makka-Pakka
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique BBC series - pity there are only three episodes.
The use of personal footage from people who lived behind the Iron Curtain is very well done. It is just a pity the BBC only made three episodes, as there are surely many more Cold... Read more
Published on 26 May 2011 by S. Carey
5.0 out of 5 stars "Soft" communism seen from within
This DVD is extremely valuable because it shows communism in the DDR, Czecho-Slovakia and Romania through the eyes of people living under it. Read more
Published on 25 April 2011 by Klinkhamer
5.0 out of 5 stars A warning from history people would do well to heed
This excellent three-part series, originally shown on BBC2, provides a glimpse of life under communism in three Eastern European countries: East Germany, Czechoslovakia and... Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2009 by Lance Grundy
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Fair.
Unfortunately for those interested in the Cold War and the "Iron Curtain", many documentaries are hopelessly bias one way or the other. Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2009 by R. Harrison
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