Paul McCartney in Red Square
Is it possible for a musical group to change the way that a whole country thinks forever more? Well, if you think about it for a moment or two, it does seem highly implausible, doesn't it? However, that is precisely what happened when four lads from Liverpool decided to form a rock-n-rock band together, which inadvertently gave Russian teenagers in the sixties a new way of looking at things. As depicted in this 60-minute documentary made in 2009, and produced by the BBC.

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Live in Red Square

In 1962, a budding cameraman called Leslie Woodhead, recorded one of the very first Beatles performances live in the Cavern. In 1964, the Russian communist state was a very oppressive regime for all of the teenagers living there at that time. Today, Leslie visits Russia, and learns how what he recorded in 1962, affected the Russian youth who lived in 1964.

Granted, this may seem like a strange thing for him to do. However, did you know that the Beatles music actually changed how the people lived behind the iron curtain! Here, check out this question and answer season, aided by Leslie and two Russian columnists, Artemist Troitsky and Vladimir Pozner.

What was life like in Russia during the sixties? At the start of the decade, Russian moral was at an all time high when astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, went into space, and gave this nation some pride. But by the mid sixties, things started to become stale and confining for all of the populous. The entertainment was quaint and yokel. The fashions were conservative. And the overall regime was dictatorial by default.

What could have happened to someone if they were caught playing Beatle's music, or sporting their attire? The Russian police would have shaved their hair off. They would have punished them for looking different. And then they would have been deemed an outcast by their piers.  

So how did the teenagers ever get to hear or know about the fab four? Although a few biased publications were produced about the Beatles at the time, if wasn't until the black market started to sell 'Rib's', that 'the kids' got to hear what it was all about.

What is a 'Rib'? In essence, a 'Rib' is a homemade recording which uses the same material that X-ray machines used. Upon this thin piece of easily folded plastic, a black-market craftsman would transcribe Beatles broadcasts captured from pirate radio 'Radio Caroline'. 

Who is Kolya Vasin? Ever since Kolya heard his first Beatles song, he came down with a heavy dose of Beatlemania. You see, he has dedicated his whole life to build a shrine in memory of the Beatles (entitled 'The Temple of John Lennon'), and has tried to maintain their legacy by holding concerts, collecting memorabilia, and being fab in every way possible. 

Did the Beatles ever visit Russia in the sixties? According to official sources, no. But it has been rumoured that John Lennon went to Gorky Street, and that the Beatles played a secret concert in a military airfield at St Petersburg

So how did the Beatles influence the people in Russia? (1) Rock-n-roll group, 'The Time-Machine', tried their best to imitate the fab four in style and tone, going so far as to record a song within recent times at Abbey Road studios. (2) The Beatles spirit seemed to imbue a whole Russian generation with the wonderment of freedom and hope. And (3) After the fall of the communist regime, Vova Katzman opened up his Beatles-themed 'Kavern Club' in their honor.

Anything else? Oh! Yeah. I almost forgot. Recently, come chap called Paul visited the Eastern-Block, and sung a couple of songs for them. Bless him. Comrade.

At first glace, 'How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin' seemed like a really silly idea to me. It's as if you could have made a documentary about 'How Elvis elbowed Edinburgh' or 'How Madonna mucked-about in Mexico'. However, once I actually sat down and saw what this program was trying to say, as well as the people who were saying it, it somehow made complete sense to me.

Well, try to look at it from a completely objective point of view. On the one hand there is Russia, and all of that dictatorial Perestroika / Communist malarkey, repressing their people with their sullen and straight laced ways. Then, on the other hand, there is John, Paul, George, and Ringo, four mop topped musicians with a debonair attitude, a care free way of looking at things, and a really great set of songs behind them.

Ying and Yang, right? And what does any oppressed teenager want to do, just to hit back against authority? Correct - rebel - and the Beatles were the best platform for them to do this.

How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin

Granted, this feature does not necessarily illustrate what I have said in the same way I have. Nevertheless, it still puts exactly the same point across, but does it in a very personal and poignant way.  

Honestly, I thought that 'How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin' was just fab program all in all, because it did give the concept behind 'the Beatles Verses Communism' some credence in the telling. My favorite parts of this documentary were those sections with that hairy Russian nuttter, Kolya Vasin, in it. You can tell how much he loves the Beatles with his words and with his actions. Also, I did like hearing about the imaginative ways that the Russian people tried to 'play round' the system, plus many of the personal story's as well.

Heck, the only thing that was a bit stale in the execution, was what happened to Russia after the collapse of the Iron Curtain - felt a bit 'samey' really.

How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin

Overall this was a really good Beatles related documentary, and I would highly recommend it to all Beatles fans everywhere. Plus, on a side note, do you know what I really wanted to do once I saw this program? I was genuinely thinking of flying off to Russia-land, giving Kolya a shave, and then singing a couple of Beatles songs for the Ruskies myself.

Well, if you saw how some of them pretty Russian ladies went banana's over the bad Russian Beatles singing, they would think that I was an actual God - like Lennon - ha!

Viva la Beatles revolution comrade!

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