This Russian mini-series, currently streaming on Netflix, follows the life of two sisters from a prosperous family from the years just prior to World War I through the war, the revolution, and the civil war that ensues. The military casualties of these wars were bad enough, but during the civil war the toll on civilians was also terrible. Choosing the wrong side at the wrong time could be fatal; sometimes, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time was enough. The Reds come off as less terrible than the Whites or the Greens, but only marginally so. The political rot on the part of the victors sets in pretty quickly, though – the war hasn’t even ended when a Red soldier manages to get a nurse fired for “class hatred” when she refuses him the morphine to which he is clearly addicted. The whole depiction of the period is remarkably clear-eyed, especially given that the novel on which the series was based was written in the 1920s, when the dust had barely settled.
The sisters, who are trying to “just live,” achieve a kind of stability at the end. But it’s bittersweet because we (and the modern producers of this series) know what the ensuing decades will bring.
Worth watching, but not always fun.