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Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War is an urgent, must-watch docuseries from Netflix

Published Feb 22nd, 2024 8:07PM EST
Russian president Vladimir Putin
Image: Getty Images

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In the wake of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s death in an arctic penal colony — the questionable circumstances of which have raised suspicions it was the result of a murder ordered by the Kremlin — Vladimir Putin’s regime continues to find itself ostracized on the world stage. Not that that’s anything new. It’s been, in fact, a long and continuous marginalization of Putin’s Russia compounded by actions from the despot himself, including the brutal and bloody invasion of Ukraine. Netflix, meanwhile, is about to release an urgent and timely docuseries that helps make sense of it all.

Across the nine episodes of Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War, director Brian Knappenberger leads viewers through an urgently needed history lesson that not only contextualizes modern Russia, Ukraine, and Putin; it also starts by revisiting the development of the atomic bomb, and how it shaped geopolitics across the decades that followed.

“While the Cold War ended in 1991,” Netflix’s promotional material for the Turning Point docuseries explains, “even a casual appraisal of current headlines reveals that relations between the United States and Russia — the one-time center of the Soviet Union — remain tense, to say the least. The global repercussions of the Cold War continue to ripple through the current geopolitical landscape to this day, but it can be difficult to understand just how a mid-20th century struggle for ideological dominance continues to ensnare countless nations in ongoing unrest.”

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in the Netflix docuseries “Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War.” Image source: Netflix

To tell that story, Knappenberger’s docuseries (which hits Netflix on March 12) draws on more than 100 interviews, including everyday people whose lives have been shaped by the Cold War as well as current world leaders like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The material in this docuseries, needless to say, is packed with relevance for the modern era, especially with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more or less representing an echo of the Cold War — a war, by the way, that Putin’s comments in various interviews suggest he’d very much like a do-over of. “What the Russians are doing is burning down the European security house,” Rose Gottemoeller, who served as deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019, said in an interview with Politico. “They want to start over again.”

This Netflix series feels like a great complement to something like Next Year in Moscow, a new-ish podcast from The Economist that does a great job of telling the story of Putin’s Russia in a narrative style that kept me more or less spellbound throughout. As for the Netflix series, meanwhile, check out a trailer for Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War below.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.