National Archives: A Century of War
DVD | Box Set
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Rare unedited footage direct from the National Archives!
With more than 85 films from the United States National Archives, you can see America at war through the eyes of the people who were actually there in Century of War. This special 24-DVD set includes recently released and rarely seen films of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Nuremberg trials and more. Witness World War I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and the Cold wars as they really happened, from historical newsreel footage to documentaries, shot and narrated by top Hollywood enlistees, including John Huston, John Ford, Charlton Heston and Ronald Reagan.
WWIIs Rare Films
The Nuremberg Trials, John Huston s lost masterpiece Let There Be Light, the rare long version of John Ford s Oscar-winning December 7th and more.
Rare combat film from Seoul, John Fords color film on air and ground combat, and much more.
Incredible silent films, footage of trench warfare and war-time skits by Charlie Chaplin.
Behind the scenes on the front line, and John Wayne, Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda narrate.
War in Europe
Footage of a bombing raid on Germany and a controversial short by John Huston.
WWII: Bloodiest Battles
The atomic destruction of Japan, confiscated footage shot by German troops and more.
WWII: Air War
Actual footage of Kamikaze air attacks and more.
WWII: In Color
John Ford s Oscar-winning film on Midway, narration by James Stewart and Lloyd Bridges, and more.
Actual reconnaissance footage from the Cuban missile crisis, a dramatization featuring Walter Matthau and more.
Since 1935, the National Archives has been responsible for the acquisition, preservation and public dissemination of the permanent records of the United States government. This boxed set contains unedited footage culled from the millions of pieces that make up the National Archives popular holdings.
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First, this is a wonderful resource for those who wish to gain greater understanding of 20th century warfare. There is enough detail to start making some sense of the enormous military conflicts at stake. Second, the DVDs provide space for contemplation of the massive damage done by warfare and whether or not specific wars make sense or not.
The first set of 4 DVDs focuses on World War II. Representative cuts:
"Nuremberg." The portrayal of the events at the Nuremberg trials is laid out in very straightforward fashion--and is the more powerful because of it. "Let There Be Light," a war film created by John Huston. This is a story of soldiers overwhelmed by war. Emotional wounds and their aftermath are described. The outset of this film notes that 20% of injuries in World War II were "neuropsychiatric." Not surprising give exposure of troops to the true horrors of warfare and combat. The DVD includes "live" recordings with those so sounded--making this a more powerful feature as a result.
On DVD # 3, there are both a short and a long version of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, directed by the legendary John Ford. The shorter version gives detail--including live film from the time--of the attack. This is nicely wrought for the time. The narration is taut. It is not surprising that there is a propagandistic element to this film, but that should not shock us, given the context.
On DVD # 4, there are films of four important American generals--MacArthur, Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton. I will briefly note the version focusing on Omar Bradley. Walter Matthau narrates (a 1963 film). Bradley was not as flamboyant a general as some of his peers, but he was effective (by the way, this film is from the old TV series, "The Big Picture"), often referred to as "the soldier's general." The film shows how he advanced to become a key figure in the West. While the film is a bit uncritical of Bradley, it does a nice job of tracing his career--from Africa (in 1943) to Sicily to the main event in Western Europe and D-Day.
Major cinematic figures created works or narrated film about the different wars on the other DVDs, and it is interesting to watch these. For instance, the works of: John Ford, Walter Matthau, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, William Wyler, James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges, Glenn Ford, and James Cagney.
I could go on and on, but this review is already about 500 words in length. In short, a fine introduction to four bloody wars, providing perspective.
This is an awesome collection which covers various wars of world significance that were waged throughout the 20th century, and of course are skewed particularly towards the USA's participation and involvement.
From the DVDs I have already viewed, I have since came to the realisation that I am indeed fortunate, and so are many others, having never been in a war situation. The closest I came to being in a war was my serving in a support role to the US-led invasion of Grenada in 1983. Now, I take my hat off to salute all those soldiers who have played a role in the various wars throughout the 20th century, and especially to those who selflessly sacrificed their lives to give us the peace and order we enjoy today.
Nevertheless, the first impression this National Archives: A Century of War 24-DVD set has imposed on me was the realisation how enormous a resource this collection is. For the persons seeking a deeper sense of 20th century warfare, this is the ultimate collection. Personally, I never really appreciate the enormity of those past conflicts, besides it gives a sense of sobriety and a humbling competition of how, as a people, we have wasted our resources fighting each other. If all that resources and effort had gone into making life comfortable for everyone, I guess we'd be now living in a state of utopia.
However, whether you are a student of warfare or you're merely interested in knowing what happened in a particular conflict, for example, Nuremberg or the Japanese attack on the Americans at Pearl Harbor, or you are interested the major personalities such as American generals from MacArthur to Eisenhower, and Bradley to Patton, this collection of documentary 20th century warfare will surely give anyone, even if remotely interested, an eye-opening vicarious experience.
It's like going to war without being in the war.
Personally, however, I am going to cherish this collection. And I take my time going through it DVD by DVD, conflict by conflict, war by war, general by general, I aim to enjoy them the experience to the fullest. And whatever I learned along the way, I hope will make my life richer, fuller, and more meaningful. Most importantly, I'd be giving God thanks for having spared me from such conflicts.