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?
 
IMDB:
6.2
Year:
2017
60 min
247 Views


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.

EXPLOSION:

Its men are dying in the millions

in World War I.

Its women and children are starving.

But the Tsar rejects any change.

JEERING AND SHOUTING

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.

KNOCKING:

Haven't you heard?

There's been a revolution!

I've heard this sort of rumour

before.

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.

CHEERING:

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

Jewish farmer.

He'd had a wonderful education,

he was highly cultured,

he was an internationalist,

he'd been all over the world,

he's been in New York

and round Europe and Vienna.

He's known to be a difficult man,

abrasive, extremely charismatic,

sometimes hard to love but

absolutely impossible not to admire.

This independent revolutionary

has rivalled Lenin for 20 years.

Soon, they'll have to work together.

Days later, Joseph Stalin learns

of the February Revolution

while exiled for robbery

3,500 kilometres away

in Achinsky, Siberia.

'Just look at how attractive

Stalin was

'in the time leading up

to the revolution.'

HE LAUGHS:

'Not only a published poet'

but an anthologised poet,

very handsome,

with a marvellous head of hair.

A great one for women.

He's escaped six times

from Siberian exile

and wanted what?

Universal equality and justice.

A completely attractive figure.

Until he was in power.

Stalin was the ultimate

man of action

and he became Lenin's chosen

favourite man of action.

He was the master of assassinations,

protection rackets, heists.

Every revolutionary leader

needs a Stalin.

Stalin...

..Trotsky

and Lenin.

Three comrades in revolution

who now have barely 230 days

to change the world.

CHEERING:

They return to a country in turmoil.

The overthrow of the Tsar

in the February Revolution

has unleashed wild euphoria.

People were partying in the streets,

soldiers were, sort of,

driving around in cars,

tooting their horns with, sort of,

half undressed girls.

People were having sex

in the street.

There were a multitude of political

factions and parties

and everyone was having meetings

about everything.

So, it was total anarchy.

It was an explosion,

which meant all rules were destroyed

and it was a chance to start again.

We're talking about,

in aspiration, you know,

a fundamental reconfiguring of the

way human beings live in the world.

Lenin arrives at a time when there

is an enormous amount of hope

and a sense that this

is still a new Russia.

April 4th,

the Bolsheviks' few thousand

supporters await Lenin in Petrograd,

now St Petersburg.

It was Easter Monday and so

the factories weren't working

so they did manage to get

a big crowd in,

partly by the promise of free beer,

which, actually, sadly

didn't arrive for any of them.

They've got fantastic arc lighting

and it made it look terrific.

The converted, the supporters,

the acolytes, the underground,

the revolutionaries

were there to meet him.

But the vast majority of people

didn't even really know

who Lenin was.

After two decades of studying

the theory of revolution,

Lenin arrives with radical ideas

on what Russia should do now.

He had an idea of the revolution

in his head

before he'd even got back to Russia

to see what the real

possibilities were.

Lenin is ready to test his theories

on real people.

He has no time

for other politicians.

'A delegation greet him

rather nervously.

'He doesn't even answer them.'

Instead, he gives a speech

to the crowds.

Sailors...

soldiers, comrades...

..this is no time for compromise

or diplomatic phrases.

This is the time to move towards

building a socialist state.

CHEERING:

As soon as he arrives

back in Russia,

he calls for his party to agitate

for a new revolution.

The piratical, imperialist war...

Even Lenin's own party,

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