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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly engrossing BBC drama
A three-hour drama about the final days of negotiation between the countries of Europe in the lead up to the start of World War 1 doesn't sound like the most enthralling viewing experience available, but this production was completely gripping.

Informative, well written and acted with aplomb; this is the BBC at it's very best.

Thoroughly recommended.
Published 9 months ago by LoveMyMovies!

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a misleading picture.
You hesitate to put a contrary view to the praise given this worthy series but it presents such an inaccurate idea of the times. In the main, international events are correctly described, but is that enough, if a drama is claiming to portray history ? Aspects of importance were distorted (political incorrectness was corrected!) creating a false picture of the era, its...
Published 5 months ago by S. Ramsey-Hardy


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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly engrossing BBC drama, 31 Mar 2014
This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
A three-hour drama about the final days of negotiation between the countries of Europe in the lead up to the start of World War 1 doesn't sound like the most enthralling viewing experience available, but this production was completely gripping.

Informative, well written and acted with aplomb; this is the BBC at it's very best.

Thoroughly recommended.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has to be an award winning drama, 14 April 2014
This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Brilliant from the BBC. Both as a drama and it's historical content. I like most people had no idea of what happened in the lead up to the First World War. Well if you want to find out and watch an excellent drama at the same time then this is for you. All three episodes were gripping from start to finish. The cast was top drawer. From Ian McDiarmid as Edward Grey to Rainer Sellien who was brilliant as Kaiser Wilhelm II. Watched it twice on the BBC and just about to buy the DVD. Worth every penny.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC Drama Back To Its Best, 1 May 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Gripping viewing from the first minute of this three part saga to the very last minute.

Beautifully acted by a collection of well known actors.

After watching each episode recently on BBC you were counting down the hours to see the next episode!!

This DVD is an ABSOLUTE MUST for anyone interested in contemporary history or for anyone who simply likes well acted BBC costume drama.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lights going out across Europe, 21 Sep 2014
By 
A. Barnes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent TV drama, late nights locked in tense dialogue, the volatile atmosphere, lights going out across Europe.

I found this series riveting from start to finish, don't expect loads of action, there are a references to action but this mostly a tense political story unfolding in the corridors of Whitehall and Berlin in the lead up to the first world war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How World War I Began, 7 Nov 2014
By 
Arch Stanton (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
This is a series dedicated to describing the events leading to the outbreak of the first World War. To do this it has to take the very complicated diplomatic situation of the time and simplify it for audiences' consumption. It is to the considerable credit of the series that this simplification does not get carried too far. The various twists and turns are portrayed nearly exactly the way they occurred, and if it is possible to argue with the motivations recorded for such actions that is a matter of historical perspective.

The main lead here is Sir Edward Grey, ably played by Emperor Palpatine. Grey is the Foreign Secretary and as such was the chief British official responsible for negotiations leading up to the war. His main goal during this month (the 37 days of the title) was to get all the sides to agree to a peaceful solution, through whatever means necessary. It may seem odd to have the British viewpoint at the center given the peripheral state of the United Kingdom to these events, but their very lack of ties was what allowed them to remain a neutral party advocating for peace. Also shown is the German side, although it receives much less attention. It never really goes into Austria, France, Russia, or any of the other states, which does distort the view somewhat.

One of the highpoints of the series is seeing historical figures embodied well. As mentioned before, Ian McDiarmid makes an excellent Grey, even if they look nothing alike. Rather more accurate to history are Churchill, Lloyd George, Henry Asquith, and John Burns. They look and act the part well.

This series does make some rather odd and serious mistakes. The first of these is seen in the very beginning: they choose to ease the viewer into this world by hitching onto two minor players in these events. That sounds like a good idea, but the execution is flawed. First, they introduce them through a voice-over narration that sounds just like a docudrama and features them telling us who they are and what they believe, which feels like very much a case of telling us what's going on rather than letting us see it. It seems to display a lack of faith in the audience's ability to work things out for their own. Second, these characters have little to do with the rest of the episodes, which focus more on the main players. This makes their introductions seem not a little gimmicky while misleading the audience from the get go. Aside from that I only had two real problems with it: While the series may have made great use of exteriors the shots the camera shots remain static which leads to a claustrophobic and limited perspective. Also, the different countries all talk in heavily accented English, which bothers me when it's in a film that is trying to be as realistic as possible.

These problems, except for the first one, are rather nitpicky. On the whole I don't think that the series can be topped as a presentation of the negotiations that led to the first World War.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the ego of the few can determine the lives of many, 11 May 2014
By 
Alan Jones (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
A brilliant study of power and ego. This is a chillingly absorbing examination of the political background to World War I. The script, acting and editing are of the highest standard. The programmes show how a relatively minor event (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo) eventually led to war throughout Europe, and beyond.

Highlighted is the almost complacent attitude of Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, that diplomacy will enable peace to be maintained. This is contrasted with the belligerent and determined attitude of Wilhelm II and Field Marshall Count Moltke that Prussia and the German Empire will go to war, whether with Russia or France, or both. Wilhelm II is fully prepared to use the military might of the German Empire to intimidate the Austro-Hungarian Empire of Franz Joseph and confidently dismiss a treaty which guaranteed Belgium neutrality (and therefore possible peace in Europe).

Although this is a valuable account of the subject matter, there are parallels here with contemporary international politics. The resulting war led to the deaths of over 8 million people. Surely we must periodically remind ourselves of the mistakes of the past in order that we are not doomed to repeat them. This is a brilliant piece of work which serves as such a reminder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TV docu-drama at its best. Should be required viewing at schools, 27 Aug 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Actually watched it when broadcast but felt I should have a copy to show Grandchildren in the future, or indeed anyone else who wants a fascinating insight into how WW1 got started. TV docu-drama at its best. Should be required viewing at schools, followed by a dissertation on the Paris 'Peace' Confrence. Not a perfect historical document but the delivery makes up ofr any short cuts/editing that had to take place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC at it's best!!, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely first class!! Showed all the diplomatic complexities in a simplified way. Educational, interesting, superb acting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last days of sanity before great powers collide, 18 Oct 2014
By 
Andrew W. Macfadyen "A-w-M" (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
The tale of the slide of Europe in into what everyone knew would be a disastrous war, told almost exclusively from the British view point it shows how little diplomacy can do when a collision course is already set between the great powers.
The story is meticulously correct in detail, told at a slow pace with wonderful performance from the actors.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but A Limited Perspective, 30 Jun 2014
By 
Adrian Collingwood (Durban South Africa) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
In this cetennial year of the outbreak of hostilities, book shops seem to be inundated with new histories of the period. Surprisingly, the same cannot be said about movies - this is the only one of which I am aware which has obviously been timed to come out when it has.

Let me begin by saying that it is really worth seeing- the acting is good and the script, in particular, is superb.

My misgiving about the film is that , if not biased, then it is at least too Anglo - centric.

Having read but three or four histories of that period, I make no claims to any expertise. But given that "war guilt and WW1" was to become such an important issue at Versailles and, of course, the events leading up to WW11, I am disappointed that the presentation of the times was done in less one sided terms.

Churchill comes out almost unscathed. The Kaiser and von Molkte (especially) are the villains of the piece.And as for the French? We arn't even shown so much as one scene involving the French government deliberating - come to think of it we see no French general or politician at all. The Austrian Emperor has no speaking part and Tsar Nicholas has very little air time too.

In the main we observe the events from the perspective of the Foreign Office.All well and good.

Surely an historical account should attempt a wider perspective?

.
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