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|R.H. Thomson||Voice Only|
|Paul Cowan||Director, Cinematographer, Screenwriter|
|Silva Basmajian||Executive Producer|
|Arnie Gelbart||Executive Producer|
|Robert Marcel Lepage||Score Composer|
|Paul Saadoun||Executive Producer, Producer|
Posted March 20, 2012
This program, which skillfully blends actual footage of the time with reenactments -- both of the negotiations and of the German response -- has a lot in it that isn't found in history books. Wilson's idealism mixed with inflexibility (much is made here, especially in Harold Nicolson's diary which serves as part of the narrative, of his Presbyterianism -- both his father and grandfather were preachers); Cleamenceau's desire to NOT have another war with Germany (scenes of the mapmakers creating "buffer" nations to try to keep history from repeating itself) coupled with revenge against Germany not only for the War to End All Wars, but for the previous German invasion which he personally witnessed in his youth; Lloyd George having to live up to the campaign promise he made to get $300 million in German gold (much of it probably having gone off to Holland with the ex-Kaiser, which isn't addressed here), only to have Head of Reparations John Maynard Keynes, the darling of conservative financial policy, ruthlessly reveal how little cash Germany actually had; Orlando, who you almost feel sorry for as he tries to lobby for Italy's unrealistic dream of getting a military port away from Yugoslavia, only to be constantly ignored by the others until Wilson tells him no (he then gets overthrown by Mussolini). And, speaking of unrealistic expectations, there's the German delegation, who saw themselves as not the same government that went to war, producing "documentation" that they weren't the only ones that wanted war, committed atrocities, etc., clinging to the hope that Wilson would help them get a fair deal. Their train trip is steered towards the "scenic" route through northern France, with a special stop at Verdun; suspecting (correctly) that the hotel quarters they're given at Versailles are bugged, they play Wagner -- foreshadowing the soundtrack of the next war -- to cover conversation; their quarters even get the heat turned off. All definite hints of their ultimate reception at the final meeting.
It's interesting that some of the actions with the most far-reaching consequences are depicted by the mapmakers -- the shifting around of whole ethnic groups that don't really belong in their new nations, the fact that the creation of Iraq was a last-minute patch-up job, etc.
Another tidbit to provoke thought: at that time, one of the waiters, a young activist from Southeast Asia, requested a meeting with the Council of Four, and was refused. His name: Ho Chih Minh. History tells us that this incident nudged him further towards the left -- and we all know what he would become. What would've happened, I wonder, if he HAD been allowed an audience? We'll never know.
Posted October 1, 2010
A very good explanation of the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Could've been more explanatory of how we're still living with those decisions - for good or bad - today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2010
No text was provided for this review.