The Unknown War Documentary Series Overview (1978)


Introduction

The Unknown War (Russian: “Великая Отечественная” (The Great Patriotic War) or “Неизвестная война” (The Unknown War) is an American documentary television series.

Outline

The 20-part series documents the World War II conflict between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The show was produced and syndicated for international distribution by Air Time International, and the executive producer was Fred Weiner. Each episode is about 48 minutes long, similar in format to The World at War documentary series. The footage was edited from over 3.5 million feet of film taken by Soviet camera crews from the first day of the war during Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941 through the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series.

weeks in eight cities in the USSR for location filming. Film footage from Soviet archives comprises a major portion of the series, supplemented by film from both the United States and British archives. Appearing in exclusive interviews are Russian Commanders like Georgi Zhukov and Vasily Chuikov. Other interviews shot for the series included Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Averell Harriman, who was US Ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II.

The series was produced with Soviet cooperation after the release of The World at War. Fred Weiner believed that a TV series featuring never before seen footage of the battles on the Eastern front would be of great interest to viewers and worldwide TV stations. Released in 1978, The Unknown War promoted the scope of the Soviet participation against Nazi Germany. The program was purchased first by German TV and quickly thereafter by TV stations in New York and Boston. Eventually the program was purchased by approximately 75 American TV stations and over 50 foreign broadcasters. After the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, several American TV stations, responding to public outcry, temporarily halted airings. Later it returned to additional airings on cable, including A&E, the History Channel, and Hulu. The series was released on a 5-disc DVD set in 2011.

Soundtrack

The series has a recurrent theme song written by Rod McKuen and “Birch-tree’s dreams” (“Берёзовые сны”) by G. Fere (Г. Фере) and V. Geviksman (В. Гевиксман).

Trivia

  • Produced with Soviet cooperation after the release of The World at War, which the soviet government felt paid insufficient attention to their part in World War II.
  • Released in 1978, The Unknown War, sympathetic to the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany, was quickly withdrawn from TV airings after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Unknown War Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Igor Grigoriev … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Igor Guelein … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Ilya Gutman … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Roman Karmen … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Tengiz Semenov … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Lev Danilov … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Gemma Firsova … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Zoya Fomina … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Vassily Katanian … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Siemen Kisselov … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Leonid Kristi … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Semiramida Pumpyansaya … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Alexandra Rybakova … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Nina Solovjeva … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Isaac Kleinerman … (unknown episodes).
  • Producer(s):
    • Isaac Kleinerman … executive producer (17 episodes, 1978).
    • Bruce Fogel … associate producer (16 episodes, 1978).
    • Kalman Liebowitz … associate producer (16 episodes, 1978).
    • Konstantin Kalser … production supervision (3 episodes, 1978).
    • Evgueny Kozirev … managing director (3 episodes, 1978).
  • Writer(s):
    • Pavel Demidov … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Sergei Drobashenko … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Gemma Firsova … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Igor Itskov … (4 episodes, 1978).
    • Roman Karmen … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • John Lord … (17 episodes, 1978).
    • John Lord … (written by) (17 episodes, 1978).
    • Ivan Mendzheritskiy … (written by) (1 episode, 1978).
    • Edwin Polianovsky … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Alexander Pumpiansky … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Konstantin Slavin … (3 episodes, 1978).
  • Music:
    • Vitaliy Geviksman … (8 episodes, 1978).
    • Lud Guidravitchus … (3 episodes, 1978).
    • Evgueni Botyarov … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Vladislav Kazenin … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Aleksei Muravliev … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Rod McKuen … (1 episode, 1978).
  • Cinematography:
    • Roman Karmen … (3 episodes, 1978).
  • Editor(s):
  • Production:
    • Sovinfilm.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Shout! Factory (2011) (USA) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 01 January 1978 (UK) and 22 June 1978 (US).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 17 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Country: USSR, UK and US.
  • Language: English.

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