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Parents' Guide to

Russia with Simon Reeve

By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Poignant travel docu has alcoholism, references to violence.

Russia with Simon Reeve poster

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Split into three parts, this travel series was shot 100 years after the start of the Russian Revolution. However, with the benefit of hindsight, what's most revealing, and at times frightening, about Russia with Simon Reeve is that it was filmed before COVID and before Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. The latter in particular hangs over the entire documentary. In one scene, Reeve -- who as usual makes for an affable and good-natured tour guide -- reflects on Putin's growing paranoia. Taking to the camera he says, "there's a storm coming," referring to the thunder heard above. But it's also a foreboding warning of what's to come.

While it can make for an eery watch, it's also fascinating to see a country that five years later would be involved in a brutal war with its neighbour Ukraine. Reeve discovers a complex country, full of wealth and poverty, of haves and have nots, of power and corruption. He also does a great job of capturing the sheer size of the country. However, with a country the size of Russia, three episodes doesn't feel enough. As a result, compared to some of Reeve's other adventures, the series can feel disjointed. But for an overview of one of the world's superpowers, there's much to be learned from this introduction to Russia.

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