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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
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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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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jul 2014, 17:13:38 BST
The Great War as it was known until WWII (not WW11). This drama is based on actual historical sources and documents. It is an excellent production: accurate, well-acted and gripping drama from start to finish.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2014, 12:19:28 BST
I never suggested that it wasn't gripping .
My reservation about the film is that it has a limited perspective.If the production was promoted upon the basis of Britain going to War in 1914 I'd have less cause for complaint. But that isn't the case.. We were led to believe that the production relates the events of 37 Days to War - a war which from the outset involved Germany Russia, France,Austria Serbia, Belgium Britain and her colonies (and before you give me another lesson - later, of course, Turkey, Italy, Japan, USA etc etc).
France's deliberations about going to war are ignored ( sorry, in three hours we did see the French Ambassador to London once....or was it twice?).We don't even see her PM let alone see her cabinet meetings or foreign minister or her generals.
The Tsar has no speaking part ( although there are quotes from his letters).
Ditto the Austrian Emperor and the King of Belgium and nothing at all about the deliberations of the Serbian Government.Instead we we are treated to more than one entertaining conversation at the Asquith dinner table as well as a suggestion of a budding romance between two Foreign office clerks ( All "accurate"?... Hmmm).
But you are right about one thing. I am a klutz when it comes to typing: in my efforts to type 2 in Roman numerals I typed 11.Please forgive this egregious error.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2014, 05:12:23 BST
Ekka says:
Colonies? Several member countries of the Empire were a bit more than colonies in 1914.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2014, 08:46:11 BST
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2014, 08:46:26 BST
But not more so than as to be obliged to follow Britain's lead. To describe them then as colonies is perfectly reasonable.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2014, 12:37:13 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 Oct 2014, 12:40:27 BST
P. G. Croft says:
I disagree with the main thrust of your argument. This docudrama isn't a fully detailed , word for word attestation of events ,from ALL sides, it would take longer to relate than the war itself. The main protagonists ARE represented, but it's not a question of British bias, but it IS seen from Britain's perspective, and shows how we almost sleep-walked into the war. Many knew war was coming, yet we viewed it from the sideline's, it only became reality at the last minute, when Belgium was invaded. The whole programme's aim was to explain how WE got drawn into it. Bearing that in mind, I thought the programme---with it's re-enactment's from abroad, being sent like telegram updates, achieved it's purpose. As for the 'colonies', that is a misconception of the strong ties with the 'Mother' country, that has been demonstrated ever since, such as New Zealand's naval support during the Falklands war, right up to the latest voluntary offer of Australian air support for operations against -IS. P G Croft.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2014, 08:35:00 BST
P. G. Croft --- exactly right. :-)

Posted on 18 Oct 2014, 08:50:19 BST
Not so much Anglo centric more we were deliberately given only one perspective of a multi-player "game", the viewer was given what information was available to the British Government as events unfolded. This was clever way of explaining how the UK was drawn into to the madness of the Great War with no avenue for escape.
It also showed how a reasonable man acting within normal civilised limits cannot make deals with mad men intent on war, sadly situation that was to be repeated in 1938.
I would love to see another similar series viewing the same time line from the French perspective.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2014, 15:21:01 BST
Last edited by the author on 18 Oct 2014, 15:22:30 BST
P. G. Croft says:
Thank's Andrew--Yes I'd like to be able to view a similar docudrama as '37 Days' , even though, by the 1930's , technology allowed the public to obtain far more daily updates as to evolving event's. Radio, Film newsreel, and Newspaper reporter's at the scene, informed us far more than in the first war. However--behind the scene's there were many in the 'cabinet' who did not want confrontation at ANY price, and in more recent times, we have learned that many of these out and out appeaser's, AND in fact, Hitler admirer's, held very high positions in society at ALL levels--Including some member's of the Royal Family. The Film ' Glorious 39'--starring Romola Garai, is a very dark film that gives a strong hint at what might have been, had these people had their way. SO--more light in dark corner's please.
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