From ‘JFK’ and ‘Nixon’ to ‘Comandante’ and ‘W’, Oliver Stone’s never been shy about a spot of revisionism. And, just as he takes aim at the US education system for favouring a simplistic, parochial form of history (Gove-ian, you might say), he has his own agendas to promote and axes to grind.
This, however, is undoubtedly what makes this series opener, assessing the relative contributions of the USA and Russia to the Allied victory in World War II, so richly entertaining. How ‘untold’ certain aspects of this history may be is moot, and it doesn’t get near Adam Curtis’s gold standard iconoclasm. So it’s just as well that Stone plunders the archives so effectively. His montages are confidently edited and passionately argued enough to paper over most of the cracks, although he does underplay Stalin’s monstrousness to suit his thesis of Russian national sacrifice, for example.
But who could deny the importance of taking a global view of past events, particularly in a world where isolationism and ignorance are downright dangerous? Engrossing and provocative, and likely to become more so as he nears the present day over the next ten weeks.