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The World at War (2004)

Laurence Olivier , Anthony Eden  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (551 customer reviews)

List Price: $89.98
Price: $39.86 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Blu-ray 9-Disc Version $71.85  
DVD Full Screen Edition $39.86  

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Product Details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Anthony Eden, Averell Harriman, Albert Speer, Siegfried Westphal
  • Format: Box set, Color, 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: 11
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 24, 2004
  • Run Time: 1194 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (551 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002F6AH0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,033 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The World at War" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 26 original episodes plus over 12 hours of bonus material (3 hours of new material)
  • The Making of The World at War
  • Bonus documentaries: "Secretary to Hitler," "The Two Deaths of Adolf Hitler," "Warrior," "Hitler's Germany: 1932-1939," "Hitler's Germany: 1939-1945," "The Final Solution," "From War to Peace"
  • 30th anniversary feature-length retrospective film
  • Biographies
  • Timeline
  • Gallery of photos from the Imperial War Museum collection

Editorial Reviews

More than 30 years after its initial broadcast, THE WORLD AT WAR remains the definitive visual history of World War II. Narrated by Academy Award winner Laurence Olivier and digitally re-mastered for DVD, this is epic history at its absolute best.

Unsurpassed in depth and scope, its 26 hour-long programs feature an extraordinary collection of newsreel, propaganda, and home-movie footage drawn from the archives of 18 nations, including color close-ups of Adolf Hitler taken by his mistress, that present an unvarnished perspective of the war's pivotal events. Penetrating interviews with eyewitness participants--from Hitler's secretary to Alger Hiss to ordinary citizens who stood outside the battle lines--add spine-tingling, first-hand accounts to an already unforgettable viewing experience.

Informative and unbiased, THE WORLD AT WAR is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an International Emmy Award, The National Television Critic's Award for Best Documentary, and knighthood for its creator, Sir Jeremy Isaacs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
775 of 788 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt...the best... January 10, 2002
Format:DVD|Amazon Verified Purchase
Assuming that a filmmaker can't go on indefinately, let's say making a history of World War II in hundred or more hours of videotape, Jeremy Isaacs has done a masterful job of capturing the essense of World War II, including its causes and the Cold War that evolved out of its conclusion.
Please note, "The World At War" was produced between 1971 and 1974, which means the interviews with veterans and other war survivors were filmed close to thirty years after the conclusion of World War II.
I watched much of this series when it was first telecasted in the 1970s, and continued to view reruns of programs over the last 25+ years. I had thought that I had seen every episode two or three times, but after finishing the complete DVD collection, I'm pretty sure I completely missed some programs and saw only bits-and-pieces of others.
What a tremendous production. Beautiful reproduced on DVD, with excellent color and superb graphics (maps).
I especially appreciated the opening special, "The Making of..." with producer Jeremy Isaacs, as well as Isaacs' brief introductions to each of the 26 programs. I only wish he had prepared similar introductions to the supplementary material on Discs 4 and 5, but you can't have everything.
"The World At War" is hundred times better than the typical fare found on A&E, The History Channel, and even PBS. That's not to say that quality productions are not being made today, but Jeremy Isaacs' production is just plain better than most things regularly scheduled documentaries on cable and broadcast television.
Special mention must be made of the music by Carl Davis and the writers, who are too numerous to mention.
Read more ›
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270 of 278 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series January 1, 2002
When investing in any DVD, especially a boxed set, you might ponder the question, "How often will I watch this?" Let me say that your purchase of The World at War will offer you endless viewing opportunities! Besides the 26 original episodes, all of the extra features that were produced afterwards are included in the set. There is so much information generated in over 30 hours of material that you will discover something new with each repeated viewing. Each episode will hold your attention from first to last, and they are efficiently indexed so you can easily review a map or replay a speech. Along side the emotional impact of the pictorial images, you have Carl Davis' moving score, a judicious use of period music, personal accounts from all the major powers, and Sir Laurance's strong narration, making this the most comprehensive documentary on the subject. Now if we can only have World War I, narrated by Robert Ryan, available, we would have the documentary bookends to the two most devastating wars in the 20th century.
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187 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest WWII Documentary Ever Produced September 15, 2001
Format:DVD|Amazon Verified Purchase
For History buffs and those who have a keen, deeply felt interest in World War II beyond just the military events, the World at War, produced by Thames Television (1981) and released earlier on VHS by Thorn/EMI, is a 26 episode documentary set apart from all other documentaries about WWII. No other, with the exception of Walter Cronkite's CBS series, comes close to an unbiased, analytical perspective of a War that cost perhaps 50 million lives and took an emotional and philosophical toll we are still trying to comprehend today.
Narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and covering all aspects of the war, this definitive series is used by many colleges and universities as a source for History and Documentary Film courses. There is an incredible depth of archive footage used; skilfully woven with interviews of major figures in the War from Britain, US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Many major eye-witness leaders and ordinary people who were still alive in 1981 contributed sometimes surprising, sometimes incredible, and sometimes haunting interviews. Yet, for all its skilful editing and historical sophistication, it is clearly presented and emotionally compelling. In my opinion, it is, along with Kenneth Clark's "Civilisation", the best ever produced British documentary.
What makes this a stellar and overpowering account of the War is Olivier's narration. Never blustery, patriotic, or theatrical, Sir Laurence delivers pointed, thoughtful analysis with his incredible command of English and oration. Music for the series was composed by Carl Davis and even the opening credits set an unforgettable tone in a haunting image of a child in a photograph, dissolving in flames. This series is for those trying to make sense of a 6 year period when the world went mad. Five Stars PLUS.
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215 of 226 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant TV series, shoddy DVD release February 2, 2008
Format:DVD|Amazon Verified Purchase
I very much regret A&E Home Video chose to do an extremely amateurish job of producing The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition). Laurence Olivier's fine narration is barely audible during the initial ten or twelve seconds of many episodes, a situation which could and should have been corrected by A&E Home Video; and at the end of every episode the viewer of this product is instantaneously clobbered with a way-too-loud blast of recently-included advertising, something A&E Home Video could and should have moderated.

This brilliant television series deserved better. Thankfully, excellence of material far outweighs those errors A&E Home Video committed in producing the boxed set; but they are none the less aggravations which distract the viewer and hence detract from this release's expected quality.

My rating of three stars is the best compromise I could think of, between the one-star rating A&E Home Video deserves and the five-star rating I'd give the television series itself. One wonders, doesn't one, why no quality control was implemented prior to release of this product?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective Product
I gave 1 star because I had to return two different shipments of this product that were defective. I then purchased it from another supplier and it worked great.
Published 4 days ago by Paul Zimmerman
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic, The Best
It would not surprise me if I have in my lifetime seen close to a thousand programs about WWII but forty years or more on there still isn't a better one. Read more
Published 10 days ago by That's Life
4.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended
It is a very enjoyable set to watch. If you like war documentary, this is one of the best set to have.
Published 14 days ago by Kenneth Lo
5.0 out of 5 stars Epitaph for an Inferno
I watched this series when it first played in the 1970s, and it is engrossing -- I can't bring myself to say "it is a joy" -- to view it again after all these years. Read more
Published 16 days ago by J. R. Trtek
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for history buffs
I have made my way slowly through the episodes of this definitve work. I had seen this in the 70s and was fascinated with the detail and narration. Read more
Published 22 days ago by terence reisman
5.0 out of 5 stars Very intertaining
As a history buff on ww2 just love all the old and rare clips from the war time. Really good made edition and any war buff should buy this set.
Published 1 month ago by Jim C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad finally to have this series
By the time you read this, you have probably already read summaries of this documentary series, and have a good idea why it is valuable. Read more
Published 1 month ago by william weibel
5.0 out of 5 stars 20th Century History - Overview of World War 2.
The "World At War" DVD set of 11, Gives an excellent historical background to the background, the conflict, and the aftermath of World War 2. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin H Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars The show fasinated me as a young boy
I 1st seen World at War at about 12 years old on PBS. I use to stay up late to watch it in the summer, as it was more adult oriented. Read more
Published 1 month ago by gerry lancour
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great History of World War II
"The World at War" is a historical documentary of World War II. It has eyewitness accounts along with a substantial film presentation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Walsh
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Topic From this Discussion
Blu-Ray version coming September 2010
If the original TV interview and war footages were in 4:3 format, make it to 16:9 is not a good thing.... I would rather wish they keep the original aspect ratio.
Jul 9, 2010 by PawPawDog |  See all 8 posts
No subtitles, Why?
An unacceptable situation for some of us/older folk with hearing impairments. I look for dvds/tapes which are close captioned (or sub-titled). Otherwise, I must max the TV volume... not good. I gather historical films are geared toward a wide market, students, history buffs, armed forces and... Read more
Jul 9, 2010 by rayd |  See all 9 posts
I Want to Know If The Set Has Closed Captions (CC), Than You
Yes Sir it is denoted in the product description as having Closed Captions...
Oct 25, 2006 by Lickitysplit |  See all 7 posts
Question about the history channel dvd
The HBO version which precedes the A&E by three years is 1920 min long vs. the A&E which is about an hour or so longer (note specs as listed on Amazon are misleading: the timing quoted for the A&E is only for the core documentary, to which you have to add about 8 hours of supplementary material;... Read more
Dec 26, 2009 by I. Martinez-Ybor |  See all 6 posts
Difference between the 30th Anniversary edition and the original DVD...
The difference is simple: The 30th Anniversary Edition (PBS calls it "The Collector's Edition" -- same thing) contains over 3 hours of bonus material. You want this one, not the earlier version.
Aug 2, 2006 by James Goodfellow |  See all 6 posts
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