Putin, Russia & The West (BBC2)
In a remarkable four-hour documentary, key portions of the history of the early 21st Century are presented as a fine-grained tapestry. That history could have been told through the intimate personality profiles that emerge here. It could have been examined in the detailed explorations of how these personalities engaged one another across borders, over issues, and in tense negotiations. It could have chronicled major conflicts, defined in part by the events of September 11, 2001. What makes the series most powerful, however, is the constant reminder that none of these things can be best understood without the others, without context, comparison, without the full “back story,” or better yet, the “back stage story.” With footage from every major news organization that covered those years, the series involves all the major “players.” From Yeltsin to Putin to Saakashvili to Medvedev, from Bush to Rice to Powell to Obama, all are present. So too are the oligarchs and the demonstrators, the soldiers and the civilians. With the drive of historical narrative and the pull of international intrigue, we observe constant jockeying for power and influence, for political control and financial gain, for personal power and national pride. Putin, Russia & The West exposes and explains history as process, as something made with choices rather than something to be recalled and described. For this it receives a Peabody Award.
Executive Producer: Brian Lapping. Producers: Paul Mitchell, Norma Percy. Directors: David Alter, Wanda Koscia, Paul Mitchell. Writers: Brian Lapping, Paul Mitchell, Norma Percy.