A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Stalin’s James Bond is highly educational, providing in-depth narration and discussion from experts about both the life of the titular spy, Richard Sorge, and of the wider historical backdrop of early to middle twentieth century world history against which he operated.
War is addressed frankly and shows those fighting for good.
Positive Role Models
Because of how entrenched the characters' work and actions are in the events of World War II, it's difficult to relate to them or take moral cues from them. Further, even the "good" characters were acting under the sway of incredibly subtle and complex dynamics, and some of the documentary's significant characters (Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler) are regularly counted among some of the most morally reprehensible figures of all time. Sorge himself was anti-war according to the documentary, but his actions were morally ambiguous at best.
All the characters are either White (from Europe and Russia) or Asian (from Japan and China). Every White and Asian character is treated the same way in the eyes of the documentary narrative, as self-sufficient and intelligent in the context of the complex geopolitical machinations and dynamics at play.
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Violence & Scariness
The only graphic violence comes from a few brief shots of authentic black and white footage from World War II, including one brief shot of dead bodies in the Russian snow. However, the theme of war pervades the entire documentary, and its story is intimately intertwined with how much the various historical figures dealt with violent and wartime considerations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A small amount of discussion about Sorge's romantic relationships and flings.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol and some riotous atmospheres and dinners are weaved into the fabric of the story to provide color, but they aren't a main focus of the documentary.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stalin's James Bond is an hour-long documentary about Richard Sorge, a journalist and Russian spy who became deeply entrenched in the German war machine as it existed both in Germany and Japan during the early stages of World War II. Because of the charged time and events that his life revolved around, with an incredibly complex mix of motives and betrayals set against the backdrop of world war, the documentary features many mature themes. The most prominent of these are war, espionage, secrets, geopolitics, and even the politics of one affair that Sorge has with a co-worker's spouse. There are several brief shots of authentic black and white footage that show violence, a dead body, and at some points, German Nazi political rallies. This documentary is incredibly educational but should be shown only to the more mature kids who are able to meaningfully process the stressful wartime that the documentary describes.
Is It Any Good?
Throughout Stalin's James Bond, the narrator and various expert interview subjects tell the story of a Soviet WWII spy, Richard Sorge, with the use of black and white footage and a few reenactments using modern-day actors. Because Sorge's work and life lay at an extraordinarily complex nexus of places, governments, enemies, friends, and motivations, his story is epic in scope and brings in a great wealth of educational content that should stoke more curiosity in viewers as well as teaching them on the surface level about a person that they might not have known anything about before watching the documentary.
In terms of entertainment value, the documentary sometimes suffers from its incredibly detailed explanations of the subtleties of personal and geopolitical maneuvering, so it won't be gripping for many kids unless they're already interested in history or World War II. Stalin's James Bond is extremely carefully made, articulate, and comprehensive, however, and succeeds at accomplishing the educational goals it sets out for itself.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.