Again, BBC miniseries, and narrated by Tamsin Greig, so, hooray, Tamsin Greig! This one is a documentary, and as documentaries go it’s fine, although it has one glaring problem.

It purports to tell you about how the childhoods and childhood rivalries of the King, the Kaiser, and the Czar were largely responsible for the Great War. That’s how it opens. How it closes, however, is with a shrug. “This would almost certainly have happened anyway,” it seems to say, “and maybe it wouldn’t have if the Kaiser hadn’t been so unloved and so unlovable. But he was, and a bunch of other things were also going on, so Europe definitely blew up.”

If you’re looking to be enlightened, then, don’t bother. If, on the other hand, you are looking for royal home videos or photos of the Romanov children with the Kaiser on holiday and wearing mutinous expressions, you’re in luck.

Notes:

  • An extremely sad observation is made: if Czar Nicholas II had been king of England, he might have been all right. He was an admirable family man and disliked politics, and he looked good in naval uniform. His autocratic tendencies would have been irrelevant. Instead, of course, he was Czar of Russia, and ended up murdered in a basement by drunken Bolsheviks.
  • The Kaiser experimented endlessly with mustache curvature. Not one experiment was successful.

Director: Richard Sanders
Rating: NR?
Length: 122 min.
Score: 2/5. Some nice archival work; not much else.

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