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Fall Of Eagles [DVD]
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THE CLASSIC BBC HISTORICAL DRAMA SERIES. A stunning dramatisation of the decline and fall of the Hapsburgs, Romanovs and Hohenzollerns. In the latter half of the 19th Century, three ruling houses dominated Europe: the Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary, the Romanovs of Russia and Hohenzollerns of Germany. Centuries of despotism, a continued lack of social reform and the advent of the devastating First World War caused the vultures of revolution to start circling. This 13-part epic drama features a who's who of Britain's finest actors, bringing the historical figures richly to life. SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE: cast and director interviews, photo gallery.
'Impressive' --The Daily Telegraph
'Strong Performances' --The Times
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Top customer reviews
the authentic costumes, the acting are all superb. My favorite
performances are those by Patrick Stewart who plays Lenin (the make-up men even gave Stewart the slighty Oriental eyelids that Lenin had, inherited from his Kalmyk grandmother), Barry Foster as Kaiser Wilhelm II, Curt Jurgens as Bismarck and Charles Kaye
as Tsar Nicholas II. Stewart's performance as Lenin is stupendous, displaying his cold fanaticism.
It should be pointed out, however, that the episodes are of
uneven quality. The episodes focusing on the Hapsburgs, i.e. the first where Emperor Franz Josef marries the Empress Elizabeth (his beloved "Sisi") and the later episode about the
suicide pact involving his son Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress are not as well done as the others. On the other hand,
the episode showing Lenin's bringing about the historic split in the Russian Social Democratic Party into his Bolshevik (Majority) faction and the opposing Menshevik (Minority) in 1903 can stand alone as a dramatic program on its own. Here clearly shown are the roots of the tyranny the fanatic, amoral Lenin created and his split with Trotsky that, in spite of a reconciliation in 1917, would end up help bringing about his (Trotsky's) ultimate downfall at the hands of Stalin.
One scene in another episode that particularly impressed me showed that death of Tsar Alexander III and the conveying of the crown to his son Nicholas II. Nicholas is kneeling in front of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch who is proclaiming him
Tsar of all the Russias and Nicholas looks extremely vulnerable, child-like and really almost pathetic, incapable of bearing the burden of autocracy that he received.
One problem with the shows about Russia is that the major anti-Jewish pogroms that accompanied the revolutionary ferment of 1905 are not mentioned. Although there is mention of persecution of the Jews, these pogroms poisoned that attitude of the Western Democracies against the Tsarist regime, in the end leading to public pressure to prevent Britain from giving refuge to the Tsar and his family after they were overthrown. This is in spite of the fact that King George V of England was the Tsar's cousin. This is not made clear in the program.
In spite of this, the series is fantastic and I recommend this BBC historical series from the golden years of the 1970's.
In a sequence of plays, not strictly inter-connected, it looks at the closing years of the German Hohenzollerns, the Austrian Habsburgs, and the Russian Romanovs. The acting is first-rate, and the attention to historical detail is very accurate on the whole.
Barry Foster makes an amazingly lifelike Kaiser Wilhelm, Laurence Naismith (the elder Emperor Franz Josef), Charles Kay (Tsar Nicholas II) are just as good, and there are equally fine performances from Diane Keen as the young Empress Elisabeth, and Gemma Jones as 'Vicky', the ill-fated Empress Frederick.
Michael Hordern's narrative introductions set the scene nicely for each without being intrusive, there are various bonus interviews on the last disc, and a booklet full of useful background information as well as notes on each episode and on the major cast.
But you have to admire "Fall of Eagles" for the scale of it's narrative, and the conviction with which it delivers it. The richness of the drama unfolds with perseverance, and what is great is that you can watch it again and again and uncover new plot devices/subtexts that you didn't catch upon the first viewing. Such a laborious effort to recreate history and bring it to life is encouraging, and in today's world of lightweight drama and unconvincing acting, such a series would never be seen - especially on ITV! The acting performances are full of gravitas and depth, and this is matched evenly by the sumptuousness of the production. The series has the feel of authenticity and style. I enjoyed the series a lot and think it's very useful in understanding the first world war, and what makes quality television.
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