I am velvety-smoothReview is BELOWI am veltely smooth, too
DVD: Cambridge Spies, BBC TV (2003)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
...back to Index
BBC Video / Warner Bros
Catalog #:
...or start from scratch
1 (NTSC)

December 2, 2003



Genre: Suspense / Drama / TV  
The lives of four Cambridge graduates recruited by Moscow in 1934 are chronicled in this vivid retelling of England's most notorious espionage saga.  



Directed by:

Tim Fywell
Screenplay by: Peter Moffat
Music by: John Lunn
Produced by: Mark Shivas

Toby Stevens,  Tom Hollander,  Rupert Penry-Jones,  Samuel West,  Anna-Louise Plowman,  Anthony Andrews,  Lisa Dillon,  James Fox,  Patrick Kennedy

Film Length: 240 mins (4 Parts)
Process/Ratio: 1.78 :1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:   English (Stereo) / English Subtitles
Special Features :  

Audio Commentaries: Part 1, featuring Director Tim Fywell, Writer Peter Moffat, and Producer Mark Shivas, Disc 1 + Part 4, featuring Director Tim Fywell, Writer Peter Moffat, and Producer Mark Shivas, Disc 2 / 22-image Photo Gallery (2:15), Disc 2 / Documentary: "Spy Web: The Cambridge Spies" (45:22), 10 indexed chapters, Disc 2 / Featurette: "The Queen's Gallery" (5:18), Disc 2 / News Clips: News Clip: "Anthony Blunt: A Spy Case Package" (9:00), Disc 2 + News Clip: "Donald MacLean Obituary" (3:45), Disc 2 + News Clip: "Philby Appears On Soviet TV" (3:24), Disc 2 + News Clip: "Newsnight: Kim Philby's Death" (8:40), Disc 2 / BBC DVD Trailers for "BBC America," "Coupling," "The Office" and "Father Ted"

Comments :

When Kim Philby died in Soviet Russia, the last member of the notorious British Communist spies was given a hero's funeral procession, sealing one of England's most incredible spying sagas. The 4-part BBC mini-series dubbed “The Cambridge Spies,” the group of five, reduced to a key four, were ultimately responsible for giving away major secrets during their tenure in high-profile positions.

In addition to the skillful casting and lush production design, Peter Moffat's screenplay covers key periods where the youth formed their idealistic associations in college, and rose to prominence at the BBC, MI6, the British Consulate in America, and the Queen Mum's personal circle of associates. The betrayal of a nation is reduced to subtext – there's little moral grandstanding by historical figureheads in the series – while Moffat's script clearly emphasizes the strong friendship that kept the group together for decades, while personal lives crumbled as the demands of espionage became far too taxing on most members.

That's what makes “Cambridge Spies” such an outstanding drama; though chronicling the arrogance of upper-crust society and their complete inability to suspect their own well-bred kindred of treason, it's really a tragedy of human lives ruined by ideology and class rules.

There's two commentary tracks in the set, gathering the series' writer, director and producer for Parts 1 and 4. A bit too relaxed for the listener, both tracks are broken up by various silent gaps, and much of the conversation consists of material already covered within the dramas. Aside from a few minor historical footnotes, most will find a repetition of material that's better organized in the included History Channel documentary on Disc 2, “Spy Web: The Cambridge Spies,” which briskly assembles archival footage and interviews for a solid postscript to the mini-series.

Some of the interview clips are also archived on Disc 2 in a separate gallery, “A Cambridge Spies Historical Scrapbook,” which includes news reports on the deaths of Donald MacLean and Kim Philby behind the Iron Curtain; Philby admitting his espionage after years of denial, and Anthony Blunt's appearance in an art tour of the Queen Mum's gallery before he was outed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

“Cambridge Spies” is short, sweet, and highly addictive, and benefits from compelling, outrageous facts. Note, while listed as Unrated, “Cambridge Spies” does contain frank language, nudity, and sexual situations.


© 2003 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Entry________Script Online _________Fan/Official Film site________Cast/Crew Link
_IMDB Detailed Entry_______Scripts available online ________Fan/Official Film Site__________Additional Related Sites
____Amazon.com __________Amazon.ca _________Bay Street Video_______Comparisons_
__Amazon.com info____Amazon.com info____Basy Street Video info______Compare Different Region releases_
_Soundtrack CD__________CD Review__________LP Review__________Composer Filmog.
Soundtrack Album_______Soundtrack Review_______Yes, VINYL_________Composer Filmography/Discography at Soundtrack Collector.com

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.