Russia : A Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby

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Culture, Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby and published by BBC, Discovery Channel in 2008 - English narration

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Image: Russia-A-Journey-Cover.jpg

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Across nine time zones and through all extremes of weather, the resourceful Jonathan Dimbleby makes an epic journey from one end of Russia to the other, disproving clichés and revelling in the unpredictable.

This is television’s first comprehensive journey through the vast and varied landscapes of Russia. It is an enormous land in which you can travel half way around the globe without crossing another frontier.

From outside, Russia is both forbidding and enticing. Inside it becomes an exhilarating adventure.

Look through one window and you see an authoritarian regime trying to modernise itself into an oil-rich economy. Look through another and you see an exuberant population enjoying new opportunities while struggling with old problems.

As he travels, Dimbleby seeks out the people of this strange and extraordinary land.

From the Arctic Circle where the summer sun never sets to the subzero wastes of Siberia, from white witches to hirsute masseurs, from oil wells to shamans, Dimbleby’s journey by boat, train, truck and foot is heart-warming, entertaining and compelling.

[edit] Breaking The Ice

Summer 2006. Having lived through the Cold War, Jonathan makes his first stop in the city of Murmansk, which stands as a reminder to the years when England and Russia were close allies in a war of survival against the Nazis.

But soon he is on the move, entering the strange and remote world of Karelia and savouring the sophisticated elegance of St Petersburg.

[edit] Country Matters

If the action in today's Russia is in the cities, the eternal spirit of Russia is in the countryside. Jonathan finds himself at a reception for a Madonna concert, attended by anyone who's anyone in Moscow, including top restaurateur, Arkady Novikov.

But the next day he takes the train to a different world: the family estate of Leo Tolstoy, arguably the greatest of all Russian writers.

[edit] Motherland

The symbol of Russian patriotism is the River Volga which runs from above Moscow through the heart of Russia to the Caspian Sea. Not far from the port of Astrakhan is a tiny village that was once the great capital of the Golden Horde.

He arrives there in February when the biting wind chills you to the bone, and is astonished to find how little remains of the western capital of Genghiz Khan's massive empire.

[edit] National Treasures

Siberia is Russia's treasure chest. When the first Cossacks ventured across the Urals in the 16th century, it was the lucrative fur trade they were after. But it wasn't long before other riches were found.

Jonathan starts this journey in an emerald mine and then makes his way down to the great city of Ekaterinburg, built to protect and exploit reserves of iron ore found in the mountains.

Its heavy industry turned out tanks and armaments during Soviet days - and also spawned a great tradition of heavy metal music. Jonathan stops off at a nightclub to meet Vladimir Shakhrin, an icon of Ekaterinburg rock 'n roll.

Alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia, killing thousands every year, often because the only liquor they can afford is home-made poison sold on the estates in the sprawling suburbs of cities like Ekaterinburg.

Jonathan goes on a raid with a crime-busting group founded by an ex-alcoholic. They nail one of the small fry - an old lady who sells a few dozen bottles of illicit booze hidden in her kitchen.

But perhaps the reason why most outsiders have heard of Ekaterinburg is that this is the place where the last tsar and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

In woods near the city Jonathan comes across an archaeologist who has just unearthed what he thinks are the bones of two of the imperial children, thus solving the puzzle of what had become of them.

[edit] Far from Moscow

Jonathan follows one of the Red Cross teams struggling to manage the AIDS epidemic in Irkutsk and visits Birobidzhan, arguably one of the strangest places in Russia - a Jewish homeland created by Stalin at the furthest end of his empire.

Not many Jews have survived there, but the people - Jewish or not - are proud of their unusual heritage. Jonathan finds Hanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, being jointly celebrated by the rabbi and the mayor.

Finally he comes to his last stop: Vladivostok. Jonathan meets some students in a café. This far from Moscow, will they feel any different from the chic young people he met in St Petersburg some ten thousand miles ago?

Not really. They want a strong Russia before they want a democratic one. As he looks out over the Pacific, Jonathan reflects on how charming and how different the Russians are from us.

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: h264 ,AVC-1
Video Bitrate: 4000 kbps
Video Resolution: 1280x720 (height x width)
Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio BitRate: 384 kbps
Audio Streams: 2.0
Audio Languages: English
RunTime Per Part: 45 min
Number Of Parts: 5
Part Size: 1.39 GB
Subtitles: English
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