Robespierre and the French Revolution is a 2009 documentary broadcast on BBC
Two in July 2009.
French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre produced the world's first defense
of "state terror" - claiming that the road to virtue lay through
political violence. This film combines drama, archive and documentary
interviews to examine Robespierre's year in charge of the Committee of Public
Safety - the powerful state machine at the heart of Revolutionary France.
Contesting Robespierre's legacy is Slavoj Žižek, who argues that terror in the
cause of virtue is justifiable, and Simon Schama, who believes the road from
Robespierre ran straight to the gulag and the 20th-century concentration camp.
The drama, based on original sources, follows the life-and-death politics of
the Committee during "Year Two" of the new Republic. It was a year
which gave birth to key features of the modern age: the thought crime; the
belief that calculated acts of violence can perfect humanity; the notion that
the interests of "mankind" can be placed above those of "man";
the use of policemen to enforce morals; and the use of denunciation as a