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The problem with most documentaries on this subject--or virtually any 'mainstream' docu on military topics, is that the filmmakers get distracted by the whistles, bells, and blinking lights of all the technology. As a result, the documentary lens becomes clouded by all the 'gee-whiz' of the technology and machines. Granted, this sort of perspective has its place. What gets lost, or uncovered, however, is something far more compelling, and that's the human element. A carrier is, as the old saying goes, a city at sea, and it's the lives of the crew that make for real storytelling, not more of the same file footage of missile launches or facts about the latest blocks of the CIWS and the takeoff thrust of an F/A-18 at full military power.
This series focuses on the stories of the crew, and many of them are quite moving. It's hard not to get a lump in the throat when watching how hard these (predominantly) 18- and 19- year olds have to work in order to send aircraft over the bow, or how they're trying to meet the demands of family life from thousands of miles away at sea. Their personal struggles and hopes are the meat of this series.
Production values on this series are quite high. I met the producers at a sneak preview and found that they had shot over 3,000 hours of HD video over the course of a six-month deployment. Working over that time, and with a 17-member production and shooting team, they found the real stories in the nooks and crannies of the ship.Read more ›
I was on the maiden cruise for the Nimitz back in 1975, a NATO cruise to the North Atlantic following workups in the Caribbean. I was then on the first full Med cruise in 1976.
Much has changed aboard the ship, and yet so much is still the same. The mess deck (chow hall) looks a lot nicer, the workout area far exceeds the dinky gym we had, there is no comparison to our little stores and what is there now, and of course no phone calls or email. And most notably, no women.
But beyond that I felt like I could nearly recognize many of the sailors and marines portrayed in the show. The same kind of emotions, doubts, enthusiasm, and bonehead actions were there 30 years ago as are there now. The documentary did a wonderful job of showing what life on a carrier is like.
And that seemed to be the point of the show. There are other documentaries, many of which get rather boring, that go through and talk about all the technical aspects of a carrier, but you get the feeling the people there are just a highly evolved ant taking care of the machine. This documentary showed the people and how it is a microcosm of America. Very rightly so we often referred to it as the small town of Nimitz, Virginia.
I look forward to passing this DVD set on to my daughter and her family so they can see where I spent a year and change and understand a bit of what my life was like.
RVAH-9 Hoot Owls - HHMF!
The ten episodes profile many of the officers and Enlisted, both men and women, from lowest ranking to highest crewmember. The mixture of fighter pilots to Aviation Boatswain's Mates to Mess Management Specialists to Petty Officers to the Chiefs, is all here.
The only thing missing, quite naturally, was much if anything about the below desks Nuclear Reactors and those highly secretive, wonderous ship's propulsion operations. Suffice to say, a nuclear carrier, at 90,000+ tons displacement, can operate underway without refueling for decades.
Surprisingly, the U.S. Navy has found a way for the crew, both men and women, straights and gays, to perform some of the most dangerous jobs imaginable. They work side by side, 24/7, while air ops are underway, but still keep their "off duty" personal lives separate; a feat easier said than done under such congested living conditions. The aircraft carrier and airwings' daily routine are in complete harmony and about efficient as any large organization possibly can be.
I believe this is the best documentary depicting in great detail, what it is really like to be in the Navy, in the history of documentary films. I should know, I served four years aboard CVN ship during three overseas deployments during the Vietnam War era. The "airdale" (or bird farm) Navy is still a LOT like I remember it from 35+ years ago, except of course, sadly, there were absolutely no women allowed aboard combat ships way back then.
BRAVO PBS for bringing such an interesting, high quality production, both in content as a tribute to America's men and women serving in the Armed Forces, and in format as a the "HD" televison production. "CARRIER" was a pleasure to watch from beginning to end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a good documentary except that I didn't get to finish it before it was taken off prime status. Now they expect me to pay for itPublished 1 month ago by M. L. Bishop
Great insight into life aboard a US aircraft carrier. This is more about the people who run the ship , rather than the ship itself. Highly recommended.Published 1 month ago by Bob
Just too much of "America is the best country in the World" even if the producers tried to be neutral. They failed.Published 2 months ago by Christophe
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