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DVD Reviews:  Cambridge Spies

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Yianni Pak
Distributed by:
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Running Time: 240 Minutes


  1. A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.

  2. Communism

    1. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.

    2. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat.

Thatís dictionary.comís definition of the term communism, and the reason I quote it here is because the four main characters in Cambridge Spies are vehement communists, to the point where they dream of, and ultimately become, spies for Russia.

Cambridge Spies is a rather cracking BBC mini-series, treated to a very nice transition to DVD. The series focuses on the lives and careers of four Cambridge alumni who betray their nation in the name of Marxist communism. The four believe, as do so many people, that communism is the only way to ensure the fair treatment of every member of society, and their treason is not portrayed as being malicious in any way. They truly are just men who want the best thing for their country and the world.

We meet Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Kim Philby and Donald Maclean in 1934, during their last year of university at Cambridge. Blunt and Burgess already seem to have soviet contacts, and Philby and Maclean want to be involved too. The four are recruited as Soviet spies and commence performing operations for the Russians. Every aspect of their public lives becomes a lie, as they work harder and harder to maintain the secrecy of their true professions whilst embedding themselves in privileged positions within British society.

Despite the fact that the four men are spies and traitors to their nation, they are portrayed as very earnest and likeable young men. The audience empathises with their plight because it is abundantly clear that these boys donít want to hurt anyone, they really do believe that what they are doing is beneficial in the long run and that what they are doing is a good thing. Itís not until much later in their careers that some of them begin to question what they are doing, and why they are doing it, and whether there are other things in life that can take precedence over their fervent political beliefs.

Everything about this DVD is of a very high caliber. The video quality is excellent, the audio fantastic, and the extras, whilst fairly minimal, make for interesting viewing. The two-episode audio commentary by the Writer, Director and Producer is fairly insightful, although the only other bonus is a photo gallery. Some more treats would have been nice but what we get is definitely worthwhile.

Cambridge Spies should appeal to a great many people. It is a fascinating look at the lives of four men who some would definitely consider misguided, but who cannot be faulted for their absolute faith in their political beliefs. Well shot, brilliantly acted, and on a very nice DVD, this is well worth investigating.

Cambridge Spies Features

  • Audio Commentary

  • Photo Gallery

  • Scene Selection


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