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BBC History of World War II (Repackage)
DVD | Repackaged, Box Set
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BBC History of World War II (DVD/Rpkg)
World War II redrew the political map of the world and ushered in changes whose reverberations are still felt today. This comprehensive collection of the 10 definitive series that have shaped our]]>
With 30 hours of programming in 10 volumes and three full-length bonus programs, the BBC History of World War II impresses with its depth of scope, breadth of analyses, excellent production values. This ambitious project by producer Laurence Rees, complete with a collector's booklet, is comprised of archival footage and illuminating eyewitness interviews that bring to life some of the most monumental events from the most devastating war in human history. In contrast to the epic scope of that other masterwork on the war by the BBC, The World at War, the focus here is clearly the war in Europe (only one disc, Horror in the East, is dedicated to the war against Japan) as told from a fairly even-handed British perspective: interviews with German citizens make it understandable how Hitler appealed to a shattered and defeated nation, for example, and the The Road to War scrutinizes how a British government was caught unprepared for a re-armed Germany bent on domination. Yet there are also poignantpersonal moments, such as when an aging American veteran revisits the Omaha Beach he stormed on D-Day, and meets the elderly German who, as a teenager, was defending that section of the beach with his machine gun.
Some of the episodes were previously released on their own as single DVD titles. Here they are roughly arranged chronologically, as the set starts with The Nazis: A Warning from History, and includes all major facets of the war in Europe, including the legacy of the Holocaust. Each title has its own style: Dunkirk is a drama-documentary structured like a miniseries where reenactments are deftly interwoven with archival footage in a creative motif. In War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, German and Russian veterans recall with chilling candor their particular universe of battle, and rare color combat footage combined with newly declassified Soviet documents offer new perspectives on the subject. The presentation is particularly impressive, bringing to life the reality of what it must have been like for people to endure through such tumultuous times. While The World at War set the standard for the World War II documentary genre, the BBC History of World War II is an excellent counterpart. For the war buff, the history enthusiast, the educator, or someone looking for a gift for any of the above, this is a title to consider. Even dedicated viewers of the History Channel will find something new and fascinating here. --Dan Vancini
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With commentary provided by noted Hitler biographer, Ian Kershaw, and other noteworthy eyewitness accounts and featurettes, these all raise The BBC History of WWII to the status of near-epic. Comparisons to the World At War, I'm afraid, are not really applicable here. World At War was meant to be a comprehensive examination of WWII from A to Z (Autobahn to Zeitgeist?), this series offers a more analytical examination of specific issues and their far-reaching consequences on the war and the players involved--not a battle by battle account of the war. "The Nazis: A Warning From History" is a case in point. In depth interviews reveal German psyche and attitudes towards Hitler and the Nazi party in the early days of the Reich; for some, joining the Party was the "thing to do" and for others, Hitler was the answer to restoring German prestige in a time when most of Europe was reeling from the physical and economic devastation of WWI. All fascinating stuff that goes beyond the scope of battlefield's winners and losers and bodycounts.
In my opinion, the installments on Nazi Germany and Auschwitz are worth the price for this magnificant collection of over 30 hours of programming. Anyone who has World At War would do well to purchase this set as well since this offers an up front and detailed look at a war that still haunts us today. Some of the re-enactments utlilizing actors, especially those of the Battle of Dunkirk, are questionable, but do not really detract from the overall quality of this set.
My grandfather served with the Alpine Division in the Italian Army before he emigrated to the Bay Area in the late '30's, so the installment on Italy's involvement in the war was of particular interest and well-handled by the BBC team. Some great footage was preserved and included in this set.
But why only four stars? Well, to echo the claims of the other reviewers, the war against Japan gets little coverage confined to the one disc "Horror in the East," but don't let that keep you from purchasing and enjoying this series.