A few years ago the CBC aired a documentary titled Love Hate & Propaganda which looked at the role that propaganda played in winning WWII. Picking up where that first left off, a new four part documentary titled Love Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War picks up at the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War and tracks the war right through to 1991 when President George W. Bush delivered a Christmas day speech acknowledging the end of the Cold War.
Tracking everything from the CIA’s involvement with the Italian elections to the slow fall of Communism power, Cold War provides insights into some of the most memorable moments of the cold war and the wins and losses on both sides. Everything from Russia’s lead in the space race to Nixon’s visit to Russia and the two leader’s fight over washing machines, these are the bits of history that we can now look upon with amused smirks but which marked some of the largest wins and losses of a war of ideologies fought with words and pictures.
Cold War covers a wide variety of material over four episodes but with less than an hour per episode and nearly 50 years of material to choose from, there’s also quite a bit of history that’s not even touched on. This is most definitely an introduction and George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC’s man of the hour and the go to guy for programming that appeals to a younger demographic, is the perfect choice of host for this particular series which acts as a crash course on the Cold War and a great introduction to a confrontation that lingered with the public for decades.
Using images and footage from the period with expert commentary and talking heads, the doc moves ahead from story to story with Stroumboulopoulos guiding the way. Occasionally peppered into the mix are effective but somewhat confusing voice-overs telling stories of individuals who were affected by whatever issue is being discussed at the time. What I couldn’t figure out is whether these accounts are fictionalized or taken from memoirs and the accents which seem put on don’t help matters any. It would have been nice to get some clarification on these as they appear frequently throughout the series and are never explained.
By fart he most interesting part of this release is the disc of supplements which features an amazing collection of material from the CBC archive along with other sources. Everything from original coverage of the Apollo 11 landing to the footage of the McCallum Family emerging from a fall out shelter after living there for a week. To cap it all off and my favourite part of the collection is the US Civil Defence’s “Duck and Cover” film from 1951.
Love Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War isn’t the be all end all of Cold War documentaries and compared to the original series feels a bit underdeveloped but as an introduction to a long running standoff rich with stories and history, it certainly provides an informative introduction. As a nice bonus to the DVD release, the CBC also has an extensive website for the series with additional material which enriches the viewer experience.
Love Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War is available on DVD on Tuesday, January 31st.
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 516 min.
Click “play” to see the trailer: