Friday, October 27, 2006

A Return of the Hero

Penny Gold, 'Three Days That Shook The World'

The BBC radio play brings back the frightening and exciting events of the August coup that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
And not just that. Few in the West understood how different Gorbachev was seen inside the country. A huge proportion of Soviets felt betrayed by Gorbachev: the freedoms he brought left vast numbers of people incapable of coping with responsibilities those freedoms. And Gorbachev was increasingly seen as a weak leader, himself incapable of coping with the forces he had unleashed.

Three Days That Shook the World, Penny Gold's reconstruction of the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, brings back Gorbachev the hero. The play is based on Gorbachev's own account. Imprisoned in the Crimea dacha with all communications severed, Gorbachev and his family negotiate for their lives, whilst the coup leaders attempt to win the country's support and reverse the reforms of the previous years.

John Shrapnel 's portrayal of Gorbachev is a striking attempt to see him as a courageous and strong man. Gorbachev in 1991 was as much a hero as Yeltsin. Standing up to communist hardliners during the fateful coup, letting events afterwards take their natural course and resigning with dignity at the end of 1991. As time goes by his behaviour will be remembered with growing respect and gratitude.

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