Documentary Review // Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure (Oct - 2015)

Spontaneous in its arrival, the three part "Adventure of a Lifetime" follows Joanna Lumley on her journey from Hong Kong through to Moscow on the Trans Siberian Express. With a mix of commentary over vastly inciting camera-work used to show the environment for all its beauty, the two hours of alluring footage provide a fascinatingly honest look at parts of the world perhaps most will not get to experience, but in the off chance you do, can serve as inspiration for where to go.                                                                                                                                      Alongside sweeping landscapes with commentary over the top providing facts and information you would normally seem to find in a documentary, Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure certainly does not skimp on each place's long rooted history as well as how current affairs clash with the history. I.e the bridge between culture and modernity. Being able to find out that Mongolia is currently in decision with having its railways joined with Russia or China due to different track-widths at the same time as showing Mongolia for its rural beauty shows objective appreciation and new awareness for countries we do not often hear about in depth.
For a closer look, and one of the key reasons to watch a documentary narrated and starring Joanna Lumley is the aspect of personal feeling and especially nostalgia. It is full of nostalgic moments Joanna Lumley has experienced over her life; and as she approaches 70 she looks back on joyous occasions of her previous self. As she arrives in Hong Kong she reminisces over her experiences living there as a 2 year old and how it has changed, remarking on the differences gleefully yet not coy enough to ignore negatives. Possibly one of the strongest attributes to find fondness in of Joanna Lumley in this series is her ability not to be blind sighted by nostalgia, addressing cultural issues and changes objectively without ignoring them. Less about perfect dates and chronological order, this short Documentary series embarks on a journey of discovery through people's personal experiences; whether than be from farmers in Mongolia living off the land to wealthy Russian businessmen. Moments of pure clarity are humbly enjoyed as Lumley, often with translators converses with people from all over to find out personally their own experiences, lifestyle and opinions. Using a documentative style of interviewing that is casual, friendly and inquisitive all whilst having the utmost respect for who she is talking with, Lumley, unlike say Louis Theroux  who tends to ask seemingly innocent and passive questions in return for a domino effect of answers, comes into situations having knowledge of sensitivities knowing deeply not to overstep her boundaries. Theroux on the other hand; constantly pushing people's boundaries in order to understand the minute scale uses intelligently worded questions based on factual evidence to propose a theory, concept or question. Lumley on the other hand stays far more emotional, yet within the realms of telling it how it is. Rather than asking directly how people feel, experiences will be shared; memories revealed and the act of simply listening patiently becomes something to be admired and appreciated.                                                                                      A style of documentary that does not press for hard evidence, nor look into greater social issues, we are made aware briefly as viewers of the darker sides of the places Joanna Lumley revisists such as Hong Kong & Russia in the past. Yet in contrast what is shown in vast pastures, strong architecture and wonderfully vibrant & culturally different people gives vivid insight into life different from our own across the World with hints of romanticism back and forth to not only inspire but fully appreciate the differences and beauty from that of what may not be expected.

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