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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Politics > First Circle (Alexander Solzhenitsyn/TV Mini-Series)

First Circle (Alexander Solzhenitsyn/TV Mini-Series)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B-



In 1991, the internationally produced TV (Canada and France) mini-series about The Soviet Union and oppressed writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn made it to the small screen.  A big production with F. Murray Abraham as Stalin and Christopher Plummer as a top Soviet military official, did the makers of First Circle know the “evil empire” was about to collapse?


Either way, the story centers on prisoners of conscious who happen to be top doctors, scientists and great minds in the country.  It is 1949 and someone unknown is trying to contact the U.S. about a nuclear device within the U.S.S.R., but the call is intercepted.  Fortunately, the officials do not know whom it could be, but they are going to find out.  The wild card is a scientist working on a voice identification device.  This is not an outright thriller, but a smart book adaptation.


Though The Supreme Soviet is long gone, its ugly legacy remains and this program (running over 3 hours that nearly always work) reminds us that only so much has changed there, while The U.S. currently finds itself drifting too closely to federal prison camps, secret police, arrests without justification, ignoring of civil rights and torture.  What could have been a dated relic late in The Cold War turns out to be a worthy adaptation of a book by a man who very belatedly got the credit he deserved.  This is very much worth your time.


The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is softer than one would like, with micro digititis and detail limits.  In fairness, this is supposed to look dark and dank being about The Soviet Union and all, but it could have been a little better.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is surprisingly stereo, if not anything distinctive.  The extras are all text on the cast, crew and very briefly on Solzhenitsyn and The First Circle.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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