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The First World War - The Complete Series (2003)

Jonathan Lewis , Archduke Franz Ferdinand  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)

Price: $49.94
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The First World War - The Complete Series + The Complete Story: World War I + The World at War
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Lewis, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Andrée Bernard, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Erich Ludendorff
  • Writers: Arthur Ransome, David Lloyd George, Douglas Haig, Edward Grey, Georges Clemenceau
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005
  • Run Time: 523 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009S2K9C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,731 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The First World War - The Complete Series" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes 32-page booklet

Editorial Reviews

This definitive ten-part series offers insight and analysis to provide a coherent and strategic military narrative of the worldwide conflict that changed history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
476 of 489 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Newest and best series on the First World War August 30, 2005
By Scout
This series is to the First World War what the classic World at War series was to the Second World War. It is shorter but excellent nonetheless.

Although the First World War gets less attention than its successor, it was really the watershed event of the 20th century. This conflict shaped the world that came after to this day. It was the catalyst for the rise of soviet communism in Russia, whose unravelling less than a decade and a half ago continues to affect worldwide diplomacy and economics. Germany's defeat provided the opportunity for fascism and Hitler to come to power there, causing the Second World War and its greater destruction. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War and the diplomatic and political morass that followed was the precursor for the reconstitution of Israel and eventually brought the Middle East into center stage today.

This series is based upon the books and encyclopedic knowledge of Professor Hugh Strachan. It examines every aspect of the war, from its causes to the conduct of the war on and behind the front lines to its aftermath. In doing so, it covers the diplomatic, political, military and social aspects, each of which played a role in shaping what happened and why. It does not just present the summary facts but goes in depth in its explanations. For example, instead of simply depicting the spring 1918 German offensive on the western front, it gives detail about how they accomplished it, the attitudes of the troops on each side and the thought processes of the respective high commands.

Not having seen Kenneth Branagh's World War 1 in Color, this reviewer is incompetant to compare the two. However, because this series is thorough and draws upon the professor who may well be THE authority on this era of history, it is likely the best presentation on the subject available today.
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206 of 214 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the First. September 23, 2005
"The First World War-The Complete Series" is a marvelous introduction to the world we now live in. Arranged in ten parts and based on historian Hugh Strachan's insightful observations, this eight hour plus look into the "War To End All Wars" is always engaging and amazingly contemporary. Mixing film elements of the period with contemporary footage, this four disc program offers insightful explanations into such controversial topics as Jihad and the troubled Middle East, Ireland, Africa, the rise of the nation state, and the rise of the United States to name but a few. What "The World At War" is to World War Two, "The First World War-The Complete Series" is to its predecessor; simply the best documentary on the subject I've yet seen.
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184 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best in its Class... May 15, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I cannot praise this series enough. Remarkably complete and ultimately absorbing, this series does for WWI what "World At War" (1973) did for WWII. Every installment is a fascinating, up-close and comprehensive examination of the often complex elements and participants fighting in the world's first truly "modern war."

Special attention is paid to specific details that most other series leave out; for example, the role of the Ottoman Turks, the significant naval battles between Germany and Great Britain, the battles in the Middle East, and the contributions of the British Commonwealth soldiers from across the Empire. It makes the old CBS series narrated by Robert Ryan a mere footnote and PBS's politically-correct "The Great War" resemble something of a mere amateur documentary filmmaker. Much of the unseen footage secured by Channel 4 in making the documentary was recently discovered from archives in Central and Eastern Europe. The series also takes a close-up look of the weaponry and the letters/diary entries of soldiers from both sides.

Can a excellent documentary compel you to read more on the subject? Well, this one certainly can. This series makes WWI a most fascinating subject worthy of further study and analysis. Too often, what has been mistakenly taught in school is that WWI was merely a "dress rehersal" for the rise of fascism and WWII. This series proves otherwise and we need more first-class documentary series like this. Kudos to Johnathan Lewis and Channel 4 for putting together such a superb series. I liked the series so much, I purchased the Hew Strachan book the series is based on! A real gem....
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Accomplishment January 24, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The other reviewers have mentioned why this is a quality production, so there is no point in repeating what they have already said. A year ago, I was able to hear Hew Strachan, the historical consultant, give a talk about the making of the series (it would have been nice to have that talk filmed and included as a special feature, but I guess no one thought of that). He noted the labor that went into locating accurate images for the scenes being described: if you are looking at the 1914 German offensive into France, you'll see soldiers in 1914 uniforms, not substitutions from later battles. Equally interesting was the care taken to maintain a balance between historical accuracy and dramatic effect. It was decided deliberately not to include interviews with historians, as in many historical documentaries nowadays, in order not to interrupt the flow of the narrative. There are some beautiful color sequences of what the landscapes look like today, from the Marne to Przemysl, and even some rare color photos from the period.

Of course, some of the interpretations are judgement calls. I personally think the Germans get off rather easily in the discussion of war origins (the famous "blank check" is interpreted in the traditional sense as more of an accident than the Fritz Fischer view of a deliberate provocation for war). But this is more than made up in coverage of German, Austrian, and Turkish atrocities (though there is some mention of what the Russians did in East Prussia in 1914 and how they treated Jewish populations in general in Eastern Europe). If you're using the series in school classes, coverage of these issues makes excellent starting points for further discussion.

Finally, a note on the packaging.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The First WW
The first disc covers the war in very general terms but the disc on the Somme goes into more detail and gives a good feel for that dreadful battle. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Thalia Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Behind-the-Scenes Look at World War I
“The First World War: The Complete Series” is a ten-part series based on the book by historian Hew Strachan. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Movie Man
5.0 out of 5 stars comparison to WW1in color
I have watched both series and this is the more superior version,a more in depth look and has more information regarding both sides of the conflict. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars Demonstrates 1914 is the Year that created our world
Really shows that WW1 was a world war. Africa, Mexico, Middle East, Far East, are all shown at war. Explains that both the Germans and British sent armies to Africa. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Clay Garner
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Documentary Series on DVD
The Military Channel used to show this series a lot but I haven't seen them run it for quite some time. Read more
Published 4 months ago by W. Hyett
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent dvd series
Superior dvd series covering WW1. After watching these, WW1 takes on a new perspective. I was amazed so much old motion picture existed from this time period. Highly recommended!
Published 6 months ago by Joel L. Wegher
5.0 out of 5 stars A great WWI overview
This is a great overview of the Great War and is something that every military historian can draw from. A great education in 10 hours of video.
Published 6 months ago by Micheal Graham
4.0 out of 5 stars Summary of the Great War
Good "rainy day" entertainment for history lovers. I can't say it's "great" or a classic, but it is thoughtful and kept my interest.
Published 6 months ago by Norman Crum
4.0 out of 5 stars In-depth
I'm not all that familiar with WWI but it seems like a well made history of the war, from all fronts that it took place on and the many parties (countries) involved. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Matthew C Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars The first World War - The Complete Series
This DVD was given to my son for Christmas who is very interested in learning about the First World War. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sunshine
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Topic From this Discussion
CC or subtitles in english
The DVD doesn't, unfortunately. For some reason whenever it plays on TV, though, CC is available.
Apr 21, 2011 by Laney Cane |  See all 2 posts
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