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Royal Cousins at War [Import anglais]
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Description du produit
At the outbreak of the First World War three cousins reigned over Europe s greatest powers Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V of England.
This 2-part series looks at the role played by the three monarchs, and their relationships with each other, in the outbreak of war, arguing that it is far greater than historians have traditionally believed.
'Royal Cousins at War was a riveting analysis of the relationship between Kaiser Bill, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and our own King George V, and the disastrous effect their rivalry had on Wilhelm s fragile ego and skew-whiff brain.' The Telegraph
'Royal Cousins At War was chock-a-block with extraordinary photographs, pristine snippets of restored film, astounding excerpts from private letters.' The Daily Mail
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NOTE: If you have not bought any of the 4 features at the following listing (also containing the above title), I recommend considering the whole package : The World War One Collection (4pack/ Giftset/ DVD)
THE BEGINNING: As this documentary puts it, how did traditional allies Germany and England become estranged with England fighting alongside historical enemy Russia in WWI? It is one of the great puzzles of the 20th century. To be fair, this documentary does not lay it all at the feet of the three royal cousins and Queen Victoria (with offspring on the thrones of at least 10 countries in Europe). However, their part in the affair is the focus of this amazing documentary that begins long before WWI. You see, Queen Victoria's house is German in origin. However, Danish princesses (and sisters) Alex and Dagmar marry Queen Victoria's son Bertie and Russian Alexander III respectively. Queen Victoria's oldest daughter Vicky is already married to Fritz in pre-unified Germany. These are the three families that produce the main players (and cousins) in our story:
King George V of England --- son of -- Bertie (Edward VII) & Alex
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia --- son of -- Alexander III & Dagmar
Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany --- son of -- Vicky & Fritz
Just one year after the marriage of English Bertie and Danish Alex, the German state of Prussia invaded Denmark, completing the annexation of duchies Schleswig and Holstein. This while General Bismarck went about unifying all of the German states. This created a new enmity or distance within the younger members of the royal family between the German branch and the other two with Danish wives, Russia and England.
CREATION OF KAISER WILHELM: As the children grow and family tensions arise, Royals of Europe vacation at a family palace in Denmark. However, the enmity spawned by the Prussian annexations means the German Royals are not invited and the estrangement continues. A little back story, young Wilhelm was breach born and his arm deformed in the process. The show oversimplifies a bit, but Wilhelm's deformity causes disappointment in his mother and a strained relationship. Perhaps in response, Wilhelm develops a childish, petulant, garish personality with some truly disturbing Freudian overtones. These personality flaws make him less than popular, all politics aside. As the other families grow close, Wilhelm is left out. This is just a hint of things to come and the show demonstrates how these rivalries and motivations continue into adulthood.
I really enjoyed the background of the two Danish princesses, particularly Alex who was the "Dianna" of her day. The documentary does explain that public sentiment was changing in England at the time (against Germany) and that rivalries in the Royal family itself could not have caused WWI on their own. But it's only a slight mention. The movie footage and photos of the royal families playing together were amazing. It was incredible to see Tsar Nicholas' family moving and breathing, a sad shaft of light in a cloud of things soon to come. Queen Victoria comes across a bit angry as they mainly quote her railing to her children against Russia, reminding them they ARE German! The narration can be a little unpolished compared to the glitz of some new documentary styles, but that's just fine. There was one secondary narrator or historian that I found a little annoying. These are small nitpicks in a production that really is extraordinary and well worth owning. One of my favorites!
Got that? The family dynamics were probably no different than many other families, but all was magnified 10,000% because of who they were and the power they wielded. We may have a cousin whom no one really wants to invite to the reunion because he is bombastic and attention-seeking. But we don't have to worry about his country invading our wife's homeland, either, as is what happened to George and Nicholas when Prussia invaded Denmark (while Wilhelm's father was Kaiser).
This documentary is not primarily about WWI itself. There is no description of battles fought, etc. The emphasis of this documentary is the personal. It excellently illustrates "what'ifs". War may have seemed unavoidable after Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated. But "what if" Wilhelm's disability had been accepted and supported by his mother? "What if" Bismark had left Denmark alone, and the two sisters didn't make it their mission to ostracize Prussia in the family. "What if" Edward VII (George's father, "Bertie", Victoria's son) had not had a surfeit of diplomatic magic - or maybe it's what if Victoria had lived even longer, keeping the family together by force of personality? "What if" the tzarevich had not had hemophilia? "What if" Nicholas had responded to the bread riots with something other than barbaric force?
And, at the very end, something I had not known about: "What if" England had not refused asylum to the last of the Romanovs? This, of course, is after the war is over. But, as I wrote, this is not so much about the specifics of WWI, but of the royal cousins to whom the war belonged, in one way or another. Did you know that Kaiser Wilhelm was exiled to Holland and lived there in luxury for 20 years after losing WWI?
This is a fabulous 2-hour documentary. I was lucky enough to see it in a theater just this afternoon - the BBC is testing sending shows to America to be seen in theaters, generally more "art" theaters, and admission was free.
"Royal Cousins at War" is just one of the shows the BBC produced to commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI. It originally aired on TV in England in April, 2014, in two parts. "Royal Cousins at War" has extraordinary illustrations. They include many photos and early movies, including home movies made by the doomed Romanovs.
[Edited to add:] I now have my 1-disc DVD of "Royal Cousins at War". English subtitles are available on both the DVD and BluRay. The show is presented in 16:9 in stereo. The two episodes total 120 minutes of riveting viewing. There are no DVD/BluRay bonus extras.
After you've watched "Royal Cousins at War", watch another of BBC's centenary shows, the excellent docu-drama
I was fortunate to see this in the theater, too. It has a totally different emphasis, and illustrates the diplomatic machinations that took place in the 37 days between the assassination of ArchDuke Ferdinand and the start of WWI. It is longer, 2 1/2 hours, and riveting, because it brings up a whole different set of "what ifs".