Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution

Synopsis: In February 1917, Nicolas Ii abdicated as Tsar of All the Russias. By October, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin have seized control. Was the Russian Revolution really a popular uprising? Or merely a stunning coup d'etat?
60 min

In October 1917,

the world changed forever.

Three men led the takeover

of the largest country on Earth.

Russia became the world's first

communist state.

It took everyone by surprise,

including its own leaders.

Revolution might not happen

in our lifetime.

Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky

and Joseph Stalin had to struggle,

plot and force their way into power

through the most unlikely series

of events.

'Lenin was moving around in secret,

being hunted by the police.'

'For me, this is the real turning

point of 20th-century history.'

This is the moment when one man

makes all the difference.

The insurrection Lenin led

still inspires fierce debate.

'Did they want a Bolshevik

government led by Vladimir Lenin?'

Miserable BLEEP traitors!

I don't think so.

The masses are tired of words

and resolutions!

How the hell is that a coup d'etat?

'He is motivated by a vision

of an alternative world.'

These people should be shot

for their incompetence!

His object was not to convince

or persuade anyone,

it was to destroy them.

The system Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin

created a century ago

shapes the world we live in today.

Putin really understands

the October Revolution.

In many ways, he's one

of the results of it.

This is the countdown

of the 245 days

that brought three men from

obscurity to supreme power,

forging a brave and bloody

new world.

February 1917.

Russia is ready to explode.

Its royalty, the Tsars,

have ruled with an iron fist

for four centuries.


Its men are dying in the millions

in World War I.

Its women and children are starving.

But the Tsar rejects any change.


On February 23rd, Russia erupts.

The masses of Petrograd

take over the capital

and force the Tsar to abdicate.

Here, dramatized in October,

Sergei Eisenstein's propaganda film

made ten years after the revolution.

Yet the men we most associate

with the Russian Revolution

aren't even in the country.

Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin

miss the February Revolution.

Lenin is in Zurich, having been

exiled for nearly 17 years

as a dangerous revolutionary.


Haven't you heard?

There's been a revolution!

I've heard this sort of rumour


It's probably German propaganda.

Just days before the February

Revolution, Lenin had confessed...

Revolution might not happen

in our lifetime.

We must go home.

The one thing Lenin couldn't bear

was that the revolution,

now it's come,

is going to happen without him.

He was absolutely tormented

about getting back

and seizing control

before someone else did.

Lenin's drive for power may have

its origins in a family trauma.

Until 1889,

Lenin is really a fairly

average schoolboy

from a provincial town, Simbirsk.

But his brother, Aleksandr,

has been a activist in the main

terrorist revolutionary group,

the People's Will, involved in an

attempt to assassinate the Tsar,

arrested and executed.

And I think it's partly in revenge

for that family tragedy

that he is so bent on destruction.

Lenin becomes an ardent Marxist.

By 1903, he's head of his own

radical party, the Bolsheviks.

Soon after, Leon Trotsky hears

about the February Revolution

while avoiding the Russian

authorities in New York.

'Trotsky was very much

the showman, the orator,'

the real firebrand

of the revolution.

He was a very glamorous figure.

He was a terrific speaker, real

rabble-rouser, and he knew it.


Born Lev Bronstein, Trotsky has

been a Marxist rebel from youth.

He had an interesting background.

He came from the Black Sea coast,

he was the son of a very rich

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Oct. 2020. <>.

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