The British Broadcasting Corporation has produced many excellent documentaries, enjoying both critical acclaim and commercial success. Its film Rostropovich: The Genius of the Cello, directed by John Bridcut, 2011, is a wonderful portrayal of the great musician. Outstanding performers like his widow, operatic soprano Galina Vishnevskaya and conductor Seiji Ozawa reminisced about a larger-than-life personality of the brilliant cellist. Nevertheless, there are shortcomings even in such admirable production.
For example, when they talked about Mstislav Rostropovich’s activities amid the coup d’état in August 1991, the BBC mistakenly showed the footage of Boris Yeltsin’s tanks, shelling a parliament in October 1993. Well, this confusion has not only technical implications. The bloodshed, carried out by so-called democratic government of Russia in 1993, presents a sharp contrast to the relatively calm actions by Communist bosses in 1991. The apparatchiks tried to defend the collapsing Soviet Union with a minimum amount of force, while the new Russian capitalists were trigger-happy to shower their own people with projectiles. It is a pity that the BBC’s editors overlooked the grossly misattributed footage.