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72 of 77 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 15 months ago by LoveMyMovies!

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific drama but poor history
This production needs to be considered as a drama and also as a historical reconstruction. As a drama it works very well indeed with some superb acting (to be expected given the cast) and fine production. The story is gripping and carries the viewer along, never feeling laboured or anything but enthralling. Viewed as a drama it really does work extremely well, my only...
Published 10 months ago by J. J. Bradshaw


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Drama is Almost a Documentary, 29 July 2014
By 
Mikael Magnusson "script hawk" (Spanish mountain village) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent reconstruction of events that led to the Great War. (OK, I know it is seen from a British point of view, but there again, it is a BBC production. The French, Germans, Austrians and Serbs can make their own productions).

Solid cast, good screenplay and excellent direction makes for enjoyable viewing.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific drama but poor history, 9 Aug. 2014
This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
This production needs to be considered as a drama and also as a historical reconstruction. As a drama it works very well indeed with some superb acting (to be expected given the cast) and fine production. The story is gripping and carries the viewer along, never feeling laboured or anything but enthralling. Viewed as a drama it really does work extremely well, my only criticism would be that the voice overs are over done and can become a bit distracting. I apreciate that in a story this complex some form of filling in the back story is important to avoid confusion and to make the story comprehensible but I thought this could have been done better. If this review was only considering the drama I'd give it 4 or 5*. The problem is that it is also a historical reconstruction and it will influence beliefs of those watching the program. On a positive it does dispel the myth that Europe just drifted into war and that the war just happened, a view promoted by people like David Lloyd George and others after the war and which became an accepted truism in popular history. There was nothing accidental about the war and it is entirely explicable. The problem here is that after this positive begining there are inaccuracies and poor characterisations which mean that this is another TV drama purporting to be historically accurate yet which is found wanting. The Sarajevo assassination is completely misrepresented, and in a way which significantly alters the way in which many viewers will think about this act. The story almost ignores Austria-Hungary and where it does include these most essential players in the events it is to show a moribund emperor and dandyish ambassadors. The Austro-Hungarian drivers for war are glossed over and remarkably the bellicose Conrad von Hotzendorf (who was far more enthusiastic for war than Moltke) is ignored completely, an appalling omission. The characterisation of Kaiser Wilhelm whilst entertaining does not ring true and portrays him as some sort of cartoon charicature when in reality he was a rather complex character. Moltke is portrayed as a machiavellian thug who almost single handedly forced Europe into war, despite some bellicose statements this is a grossly unfair representation. Falkenhayn is just portrayed as an accessory to give context to the sequences involving Moltke. The impression of a German chief of general staff almost bullying the Kaiser and forcing Europe into war is not consistent with reality and the omission of Austria-Hungary is almost inexplicable given their critical contribution to the events of those days. The program also gives a very British-centric version of events in which things revolved around London with Paris and St. Petersburg all but ignored when it was very much a continental affair. Although rivetting drama the program is dangerously misleading and I fear it will just replace old myths and misconceptions with new ones for many who view it. The show also has a feeling of applying 21st Century sensibilities to relationships between those in authority with those lower down the social hierarchy which feels a bit contrived and false. So, whilst I'd rate this very highly as a drama I feel the historical inaccuracies and misrepresentation mean it falls down, I'd give 1 or 2* for it as a reconstruction, so 3* is a compromise between very good drama and very poor history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Diplomacy versus militarism, 21 Dec. 2014
By 
Justinian (Essex, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
One of the best of the best. There was no crime greater than regicide for the Kaiser, save for the rest of Europe his even greater crime of plunging the world into a Great War from which it has still not recovered. At least that is how it comes across. This series had excellent actors, dramatic script ,even if not entirely accurate to history,but it certainly conveyed the dilemma of the Asquith government in trying to prevent war without prejudice to British interests. It was this interest which was determinative as to the decision as is portrayed here. Those playing Lloyd George, the Kaiser, Von Moltke, and Sir Edward Grey seem to capture the times and the characters as we might imagine them. A realistic and telling portrayal of a great moment in history, certainly the most important of the twentieth century. Highly commended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well written and acted, 4 May 2014
By 
Stephen Bishop (Darlington, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
The events leading up to the start of the First World War are complex and still offer a lot of room for argument and controversy. Therefore, it's necessary for this drama to take a particular line and stick to it, rather thna exploring all the potential angles. It tends to concentrate on the thesis that germany was largely responsible but also shows in quite a fair way the arguments as how Britain might not have joined in. The Russian angle also gets a fair bit of air time although perhaps in a way which is a bit too comic.
The casting and acting are very well done - particularly Ian McDiarmid as Edward Grey, who is the lead character really. Notable also as pice of drama where there are few 'events' it's mostly talk and you have to listen properly to enjoy it. If you do, you will be glad you did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC at it's best., 3 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
As a review on the box says 'Television documentary at it's very best'. Quality acting and very high production values make this a definitive account of the lead up to the beginning of the first world war. Well worth seeing more than once.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spiral to a world war ..How such a tragedy happend ......., 28 April 2015
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
As an Historian , i was very pleased to see tis drama .All is perfect : actors , supporting parts ... It s engrossing and enthralling . It s very gripping .There is a terrible spiral to go to the disaster .Such tragedy may occur nowadays ....The Kaiser and Von Moltke would have been tried for war crimes .! They were so infatuated ! They wanted this war ! And the Czar Nicholas II all were the responsables for this mess ans slaugther .I was very sad and horrified in whatching this excellent film .. Noncense , crazyness ! shakespearian drama !
One regret ; No french siubtitles .French people may be very interested in seeing this film ! I m french and I saw the film with the HOH subtitiles in english. .
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a misleading picture., 23 July 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
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 atmosphere, its dynamics.

The Kaiser and his Military had planned and waited years for this dangerous moment -but you wouldn't think so. This was not a telling picture of Imperial Germany. Were the German actors out of sympathy with their roles ? Kaiser Wilhelm II had established something akin to personal rule, and largely directed policy. He wavered -but where was his aura of power, the crack of the whip, the unquestioned command which characterized the Supreme War Lord ?

Here, von Moltke and the Kaiser's aristocratic Military Entourage were coarse, over-acted blustering thugs. Their accents were often incomprehensible, their noble bearing non-existent, and the ill-fitting uniforms (which should have been superb) were a surprising low from the BBC. It was a bit like a confusing pantomime.

The only sane fellows were the British. Nevertheless we soon witness the very floppy Foreign Secretary being outrageously rude to ambassadors of the European Powers ! Exquisite manners and professional good humour were de rigueur in diplomatic circles, even with potential enemies on the brink of war. Perfect tact was maintained until the last moment -this was the essential nature of diplomacy in Europe. They called it 'savoir faire'. What we saw destroyed credibility.

(Their Excellencies waited to see the F.S. seated against some shabby old cupboards which had lost their handles. Could this have been a reception room at the Foreign Office? Is this the Beeb economising or just not bothering ?)

The depiction of some of these distinguished Ambassadors as ludicrous buffoons (cue winks between servants) made you wonder if the writer had been simply looking for laughs. Maybe some jokes were thought necessary during a serious story, but this was pushing ridicule (and unreality) a bit far. Then having seen off these silly ambassadors, Sir Edward Grey waves toodle-oo to the girls in the typing pool as he goes home. This was a friendly modern scene - but, this was not set in 2014.

Created in the long shadow cast by 'Downton Abbey', this fictionalised drama depicts sparky messengers, maids, typists and footmen as part of the story, they are invented protagonists alongside the real politicians and kings. (The middle class is totally wiped out.) At the elbow of the powerful, with little sign of being worked hard, the chatty 'lower orders' are at the centre of things, and it is their voices we hear narrating the crisis. Possibly OK for fiction like 'Downton Abbey', this is an unrealistic view of history. It gives wrong information about some less acceptable aspects of 1914 society.

The truth was that in 1914 every servant "knew his place". No servant could have influenced what was happening in the European crisis -except with a gun, like Princip. Their job was certainly not to "get above themselves" and have opinions in the corridors of power. They were required to be deferential and respectful, take orders, and efface themselves. These were the rules of the game, anything else was unthinkable.

They were definitely not on relaxed terms with the Foreign Secretary, and none could have grasped, let alone were involved with, what was really going on. It was none of their business -until they were invited to fight. But in "37 Days" the uncrossable gulf which in 1914 separated masters from servants -the most significant dynamic in society at that time- is almost deleted. (To fit more comfortably with our own attitudes ? But if history is forced to be 'politically correct' it ceases to be history, it becomes fiction.)

The only scene which depicted the master/servant relationship with realistic tension was the British Cabinet's audience with King George V. Except in this case they spoiled it for another reason, by getting the King all wrong - actually he was friendly and accommodating towards politicians in government.

This occasionally embarrassing series was saved by some of the actors playing British politicians. Above all by a riveting Mrs.Asquith from Sinead Cusack, whose stunning cameo made you feel, if only for a moment, you really had glimpsed another world. She was the only real man among them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 Days - an essential watch if you want to understand the history of the start of WW1, 7 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
I saw 37 Days when it was on TV but there was SO much to take in I couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD. It is brilliantly acted, especially Ian McDiamid who I hope gets nominated in the Best Actor category. He manages to convey the terrible weight of his office as Foreign Secretary - the decision whether to involve Britain in this terrible war rests on his shoulders - the Prime Minister seems a far lesser figure in this take on events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aid to understanding the outbreak of war 1914, 31 July 2014
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent glimpse into the complacency of Britain, assuming that common-sense and courtesy would prevail. The film focuses on the Cabinet and on diplomacy, not on the military position.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC at its best!, 1 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: 37 Days: The Countdown To World War 1 (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
A brilliant piece of telly. If history had been taught like this I should have understood much sooner the complex reasons for the outbreak of WW1. The BBC at its absolute best!
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