Road to Moscow 1812


The ill-fated invasion of Russia by Napoleon Bonaparte saw not only the destruction of his Grande Armee of some 600,000 men, but also the death of his ability to maintain control over Europe.

Napoleon's Road to Moscow follows the campaign from its causes - growing rivalry and differences between France and Russia - the preparations, the rival armies, the advance on Moscow, its occupation and then the horrendous retreat.

The documentary examines how Bonaparte's initial plan to trap the Russians close to their border with Poland was ruined by key subordinates failing to take advantage of the situation and how successful were the Russian scorched-earth policy and strategy of retreat in denying food and shelter to the French.

The key battle of Borodino is well covered and, like the rest of this series involving Russia, benefits from excellent use of War and Peace footage.

Another nice mix to the information presented is by having an actor play the famous Sergeant Bourgogne while the narrator gives extracts from the soldier's memoirs. The changing looks of the veteran - from eager starter to frozen survivor - add weight to the marvellous eyewitness account that Bourgogne's memoirs offer.

One theme throughout the programme is Russia's utter defiance of the all-conquering French emperor and that reaches its peak with the evacuation of Moscow and the decision to burn the capital to the ground to deny it to the French.

The tragic French retreat from Moscow again is boosted by film footage, more of Bourgogne's experiences, and shows the horrendous conditions and enemy attacks the French had to survive.

Napoleon's Road to Moscow is a must for people who want to understand how the war started, how it went awry for Bonaparte and what caused the destruction of one of the biggest and best-prepared fighting forces history has ever seen.



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