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on 14 September 2009
To the people who still have the 'cold war and USSR' view of Russia, this journey through the varied parts of this, the largest country in the world, will be fascinating and a revelation about the people and the culture. This DVD in my opinion shows for the first time the true facts about this complex land with people who have been through so many difficult times during the dramatic changes before and after the Revolution. Having visited Russia and stayed in St Petersburg, Moscow and Tomsk I can only congratulate Jonathan Dimbleby and the BBC on a superb and accurate overview of the transitions which have led to the present Russian Federation. The locations picked to show the people in the sometimes stunning scenic views were inspired and in my opinion an essential part of this educational programme. I would recommend this Series to any thinking person who wishes to discover a relatively unexplored country whose reserves of minerals, oil and gas will have a great impact on the Western way of life in the not too far distant future. When you get off the Transaero 737 from Moscow to Tomsk at 6.10am with deep snow everywhere and a temperature of minus 46degC you know you have arrived in Siberia. However the traditional Christmas trees and decorations with the great local Xmas cheer and spirit (in my case a lifesaving glass of brandy)make you feel at home.
George G Brown, Bristol, England
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The series, which was first shown on BBC1, consists of 5 episodes. Each episode is an hour long. To call a series Russia and then only give the series 5 hours of air play, is a total injustice to this enormous, complex and intriguing country.

I have traveled to Russia and Siberia many times, yet have only seen a tiny part of this vast country. The series content, does suffer from being far too selective in what Jonathan Dimbleby chooses to focus upon. He visits a city like St. Petersburg, but is too busy interviewing Russians about the past and future political movements to take in the Hermitage or Winter Palace. In one of the later episodes he goes to a large gold mine in Siberia and interviews the owners and asks them about domestic politics, which they refrain from answering. I would have preferred to have seen more of some great City than a gold mine. To do justice to a country that is so large, with so many fascinating regions and Cities, the BBC should have allowed for a longer series or asked the producer to focus less on politics and more on the country. The series is so selective in what it looks at and is loaded with the political bias of Dimbleby, who is clearly no friend of Putin. Several times Dimbleby interviews Russians and instead of allowing them their opinions, he jumps in with his own subjective narrative about what he thinks is right. I suppose he is a political journalist and simply cannot help himself. This style could be a problem for some viewers who are looking for a pure travel documentary. I would have preferred to see more of Russia and less of this political analysis.

Jonathan Dimbleby is no Michael Palin, who I think is the master of these type of travel documentaries. Dimbleby doesn't seem to be as relaxed as Palin and when he does try to be amusing, such as the dance at the Tartar wedding, when he just looks awkward.

Apart from quibbles about his style and series scope, I did enjoy this DVD documentary and would say that it is a good series, so long as you are not looking for a definitive guide to Russia and can accept Dimbleby's bias and political questions. Enjoyable but could be improved.
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VINE VOICEon 27 January 2011
This is quite good and Dimbledy interviews some interesting and very engaging people--but it's also disappointingly superficial and often unsubtle,and though he clearly is fascinated by this extraordinary country and its mosaic of cultures, he carries a few too many western prejudices in my opinion--including the one that tries to make out Europe is only about Western Europe, so that even St Petersburg is spoken of as though it's not part of Europe, unlike say Paris or London. And Dimbledy has a tin ear when it comes to talking to Russians about democracy, for instance. But overall it's interesting enough even if I'd have liked more depth and subtlety.
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on 9 April 2013
I have watched the series on these DVDs over the past week or so, and, although in itself it was interesting, was very unimpressed with Jonathan Dimbleby's style throughout. I spend a lot of time in Romania (and have done for the past twenty-two years), so have some insight into this part of the world, and hopefully a lot more tact than Mr. Dimbleby shows, for example to the man in an early programme who had lived in a block of apartments which had shared kitchen facilities - how rude is it to ask, astounded, if the man would be happy to move back to the block? And how many answers to his questions began with the words, "of course", as the questions were so painfully obvious, such as, "Do you miss your family", a question asked of a Chinese worker in the final episode, who spends eleven out of twelve months in Russia? Obviously, Russia cannot be covered even in ten DVDs of this running time, but some parts of the series were refreshing in that they covered parts of Russia and the way of life not previously featured in previous documentaries (at least to my knowledge). Not one of my favourite series, but each to their own.
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VINE VOICEon 9 June 2008
I was really looking forward to this series by Jonathon Dimbleby. On the whole it is quite good with lots of views of a place few of us know much about. I do believe though that there should have been more research prior to the filming as often I found some of it bland and quite uninteresting. An example was the last episode where a Chinese migrant worker was asked 'why do you come here to work?' It was so obvious he doesn't work in Russia for the weather. Then there was the old gent with the Gold mine who was doing very well thankyou, Jonathon though,was trying to draw out from him a political view which he really didn't have as he is just a business man with no particular interest in politics, I found that rather silly. Too much focus on peoples political opinions and perhaps not enough insights into how people live there on a daily basis. Nevertheless it was a good idea to make this programme and I hope that it encourages further travelogues perhaps probing deeper into this massive country.

I have recently been reading Ryziard Kapuchinskis 'Imperium' a book crammed full of really fascinating stories and anecdotes about the former USSR. Jonathon and his team would have done better by reading a copy of this fantastic book by a great writer.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 September 2008
For those of us who won't be able to go to all the places that Jonathan Dimbleby (JD) travels in the vast Russian country, this series provides some very interesting insights, facts, views of landscapes, people, cities and the enormous range of cultures and lifestyles and much more. I really enjoyed this and will look forward to watching it again and again. JD has a real grasp of people and humanity and communicates with people in such apparent ease that you wish you were travelling with him on this epic journey and to get to see all the places. Also there is a lot of honesty in the way the program is presented and it is far from a glossy travel documentary - it does give the impression that what you see is exactly what you get.

There are points where Dimbleby's own opinions and values feel like clouding some issues, however it would be a much less personally portrayed experience without this and, whether you agree with him or not, the journey would be very bland and predictable to the viewer without opinions and discussions.

A six part documentary series of course can't cover every aspect of this vast country, so i did sometimes feel it needed more detail and more stops ( at least filmed or unedited stops) in between his locations and a longer series, maybe 8 episodes, might have given us a little closer to a complete picture. However all that said, i am so pleased and bought this DVD set anda hve watched it twice through already.
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on 13 June 2008
I think it is a very good attempt to show Russia to the West. Attempt - because you can never show it all as it is. Russia is and will remain a mystery. I am Russian and I have seen a lot of it and still there is something new and new and new and wonderful there. Of course there are drawbacks in that film and leaving aside poor translation - those are mainly those political views that John keeps pushing. That "democracy" fairytale of nowadays he seems to be believing in. Do it in the west first - before you can sell it to others! Put your own house in order! And leave Russia alone for at least a few years without attacks from outside world. And show Russia from different points of view. JD is not the only right way of seeing things and he DID NOT show a lot of Russia`s life and people. Even if all he did was a usual propaganda - still - through it - you can see and feel Russia! JD could not help to love it himself! Mother Russia is Mother Russia - WATCH it and see for yourself!God bless you.
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on 28 April 2012
Full of history, unusual meetings with people. Questionable situations.

But many views of life and countryside. A bargain among travel vids in my opinion.

There are many good commenters so I need not repeat. Dislikes are present also.

But for me there are visual scenes that surprise and amaze. People from out-of-the-way places to glitzy glamour places.

Interviews of very personal depth give the feeling of being neighbors. I love the sights of children.

Dimbleby is sometimes a bit troublesome, trying too much, sometimes out of his understanding. "It could be America," he mutters as he finds a popcorn seller. "I hate popcorn," he declares but who cares? What does his prefence in food matter in his travels? His visit to a Moscow banya isn't necessary and is a pompous try to entertain. Declaring he is called little brother is a poor mannered intrusion in a young man's party.

But he makes his points all the same and he is alright by my opinion. Get him on a horse or a farm, on a sailboat and he is fine company. I'm jealous and for many good reasons.

Surprises. The tea lady on the boat was a moment of humor waiting to happen and Dimbleby plays such an unscripted moment just right. Tolstoys home is still a working farm and I wish I was there with Dimbleby. I love the place. The old retired collective farm worker woman. The herder in the mountains gives Dimbleby his horse so Dimbleby can be a herder as in very old times.

Historical places abound. The endless horror and tragedy of communist destruction is mentioned often enough for this video but just touches the subject.

Dimbleby is nothing to worry about unless you are excessively neat in which case the viewer is in need of correction, lol. He likes to show off his British upper class life but to me in my opinion, he is too often putting on airs and graces. He seems to be drawing attention to himself rather than to people and places.

Many subjects are not covered such as Chernobyl, the communist medical disaster, the nomadic native peoples of the north, and other cities on the Siberian railroad.

I like him well enough as guide although his Russian speaking producer lady Theresa Cherfas is a great guide in fact. She seems much more at home. I wish was she was featured much more often. Her presence is always welcome.
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on 19 July 2015
This series isn't what I expected. As a travel documentary I would expect to see places of natural beauty and the sorts of places you would want to visit on vacation. It was a shame the presenter wasn't a Russian speaker and the questions he asked through the interpreter were pathetic and often politically motivated.
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on 25 January 2009
I missed the series when it was on TV and bought the book and DVD to see what I missed. I have been to Russia several times and have a Russian wife and Mr Dimbleby must have gone out of his way to find the most depressing parts of Russian society, he convinced himself that every business had criminal undertones, everything was grey an dull. I am not saying that everything in Russia is perfect, far from it, but his whole journey was biased towards the negative. Trying to put across that potato picking old women is a typical part of Russian life is like saying the average person in UK comes form the far north of the Scottish highlands in their little cottage. His portrayal of the Cossacks is like saying your average UK person doesn't go to the supermarket, but they snare their own rabbits for food every morning or shoot wild game. Russia is rich is history and culture and the town are the same as towns in the UK, life goes on the same. Mr Dimleby..... the Cold War has long finished, the world moved on, sadly your view on Russia didn't and you went far and wide to find people in Russia who were also unaware it finished.
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