Vasily Grossman: Life and Fate (BBC Radio 4)

Image of TV spot still from Life and Fate: BBC Radio 4

Image of TV spot still from BBC Radio 4: Life and Fate: (book arrest)

Image of TV Spot still from BBC Radio 4: Life and Fate (KGB arrive)

This part of September is a time when most people are inadvertently preparing for Autumn by closing their curtains earlier, talking about jam a lot and thumbing recipes for stews that make use of half a bottle of wine.  But the people at BBC Radio 4 have been doing more other things and have produced a rather special dramatisation that will air between the 18 and 25th.

Back in the 1960’s, a novel was completed by a Russian chap called Vasily Grossman who had worked as a war correspondent for the Red Army during the Second World War. His brutally visceral book focuses on the trials and tribulations of  his family, the Soviet regime and the Battle of Stalingrad. Indeed, his writings would profoundly highlight the wrongs and rights of both nations involved in the battle. As you can imagine, the Soviet regime in the 1960’s didn’t really enjoy this and rapidly decided to ‘arrest’ the book (and all typewriter carbons) deeming it dangerous literature.

His incredible story somehow escaped to be published in 1980 in Switzerland and the BBC have produced their dramatisation starring actors Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. Creative Agency ‘Devilfish‘ were commissioned to create a short TV spot with animator, Daniel Binns to advertise the dramatisation in the UK and the result was a superb Saul Bass style animation, reminiscent of a Hitchcock title sequence. I’d tune in to this one if I were you, but if you miss it you will be able download all the episodes as a podcast. Splendid stuff.

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