Battlefield: Russia - The Eastern Front
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Turning sights and cameras to the Eastern front, this intense documentary retells the story of three amazing battles with intimate details of weapons used, the leaders and commanders and their strategies. This set includes The Battle for Russia, The Battle for Stalingrad and The Battle for Berlin . 2010/color-b&w/6 hrs/NR.
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The programs are encoded at less than 8 Mbits/sec, about one third of usual Blu-ray rates, and the image is full-screen, so the Blu-ray format was probably chosen for its capacity (3 2-hour programs can fit on one disc). The programs are encoded as widescreen, however, with gray pillars outside a narrow black band around the FS image. This is not good for a home theater because it throws ambient light into the room, but, mercifully, the pillars are a dark gray, so it isn't disastrous. On a regular TV, the pillars look black, though. The images and sound are excellent. All in all, it's wonderful to have this series available, and, given how much content is on each disc, the pricing is reasonable.
Rather, this historical film gets down to the nuts and bolts of war as seen through a slightly less romantic prism and one of strategy. Military strategy. Battles are preceded by excellent maps showing viewers certain objectives by each side, kinds of troops used, vehicle units etc. For those who feel Stalingrad was the death knell of the Reich and it was all Russia from there on, not necessarily. This film presents some interesting post-Stalingrad scenarios showing how "not so down and out" the Nazi war machine was after losing their sixth army. Watching The Unknown War with Burt Lancaster, I couldn't help but fast forward through large sections of the series. I was hooked the entire time watching Battlefield Russia. Yet another outstanding addition to the Battlefield collection. There's also great portraits of military leaders and commanders on each side of the conflict worth checking out in this one as well.
The content of the series itself, as well as the presentation is still well above any of the documentaries of World War II out there. It's a shame that the DVD offering is not a "remaster" of the original. The black-and-white images didn't look any better (or clearer) than the VHS tape that I have. Another "nice-to-have" that was missing on the DVD is the close-captioning or subtitles.
But overall, if you're looking for an above average WWII documentary, this is a very good buy. The narration is clear, the explanation of the war-strategies plus their consequences is excellent, and the direction of the series is well thought out.