Search - Big Battles of World War II Vols. 1-5 on DVD

Big Battles of World War II Vols. 1-5
Big Battles of World War II Vols 1-5
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2001     12hr 30min

World War II was the greatest rampage of destruction in the history of humanity - or inhumanity. Over a period of six years, 1939 to 1945, more than 50 million human beings died by violence, disease, exposure, or starva...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Educational, World War II, Military & War
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 10/23/2001
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 12hr 30min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Excellent compilation of World War 2 footage
Jeremy Mccormick | 09/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you are into World War 2 footage, this is a gold mine. As per the name, the focus is on the battles themselves, rather than politics or "human interest" stories. There is particularly outstanding footage of street fighting, artillery actions, aerial dogfights, ground strafing, city bombing, and tank movements. Sometimes, the coverage is so close that I wonder whether the camera man made it out alive with all his limbs intact!

Coverage of the Eastern Front is excellent, with four episodes devoted to this massive "war within a war". The coverage is much more thorough and better formed than that of World at War, which I think skimps on this area. In fact, I have not found better Eastern Front coverage in any World War 2 documentary.

In terms of footage, there is some overlap between Big Battles and the well-known World at War. I would estimate that you will see up to 25-30% of the same battle footage in certain episodes (e.g. Desert War), though Big Battles tends to show longer portions of these identical clips.

In at least one case, Big Battles fails to reveal that footage is staged, e.g. when Soviet troops meet up to complete the Stalingrad encirclement. World at War makes a point of saying that this was staged for the camera while Big Battles does not. This type of oversight makes me wonder about other issues of accuracy with Big Battles, such as whether the footage shown was actually shot at the implied location.

Now I'll give some capsule reviews of the episodes.

Battle of France: Blitzkrieg
Battle of France: Defeat

Great coverage of the Blitzkrieg in the West. (Mistitled, because covers Poland, Holland, etc.)

Battle of Britain

Average overview of the British air war.

Battle of the Atlantic

Average coverage of the U-boat war.

Battle of the Pacific: The Rising Sun
Battle of the Pacific: The Setting Sun

Okay pair of episodes covering the American war in the Pacific.

Battle of the Desert

I think the structure of this one is ripped-off from World at War. At least, it is very similar!

Battle Over Europe

A good overview of the bombing campaign against Germany, containg a lot of city bombing and dogfight footage.

Battle of Normandy

A standout episode featuring fantastic air and ground battle footage from Normandy up to the breakout.

Battle of Italy

Decent coverage of the Italian campaign. Not one of my favorites, though.

Battle of Germany

Breakout through Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes. Good ground battle footage.

Battle of Berlin: The Russians are Coming
Battle of Berlin: Death of a City
Battle of Moscow
Battle of Stalingrad

Together, these four are my favorite episodes, because I haven't found better Eastern Front coverage anywhere! I think it is worth the price just for these episodes."
A Different Viewpoint Is Interesting!!
R. Hinton | Oceanside, CA | 05/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought it and watched most of it by now. You get many hours of quality B&W Newsreel footage from all sides. I am a serious military history buff and I've never seen 70% of the footage. I can see little scenes that have been used in many movies and other newsreels. This footage seems to be the original from which many copies have come. This package is a British TV series from the early 1960's. Full-on British "stiff upper lip" narrative adds vigor. I suggest it to anyone who craves the real thing."
Good film clips and interviews, the narration is just bad
Craig Swain | Leesburg, VA | 12/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I found the DVD set well restored from the original film. There are some glitches with the audio track and film lines in the display, but one expects that from such a transfer. The archival footage is vintage, with some clips preserved here that would otherwise be lost forever. The interviews provide insights you don't normally see from even the great World at War series.

However, I knock this series for the somewhat dated, and outright slanted storyline and narration. While hearing over and over of the valiant fighting of the Russian soldiers, we see repeated references to American "disasters" in the Italian campaign or Ardennes or the Pacific. The narration is lacking factually elsewhere. For instance, the French 2nd Army is credited with securing the Eagle's Nest, when the actions of the US 101st Airborne Division is pretty well documented. Details of the Normandy breakout are likewise either confusing in portrayal or just incorrect. And of course just two installments to cover the war in the Pacific.

Watch this set for the footage, ignore the narrators.
Aka The War Years
Anonymouse | 12/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This series of programs was shown on the History Channel during the early 1990s titled "The War Years" (as a subset of that series). I had recorded them when they were broadcast, and had been searching for a few years to see if I could find this on DVD as my VHS was becoming a bit dated.

I agree with the reviewer regarding the bad video transfer. Too much pulsating at least during the Battle of Moscow which was better contained on the program on the History Channel. They could have done a much better job at controlling the contrast on the transfer to minimize on that. At times, the video is almost unwatchable because of the pulsation.

Despite the "narration blunders" described by another reviewer, this series IMO is on par with the other great WW2 documentaries such as World at War. The sheer amount of footage that you do not see elsewhere is well worth the price. It is also a very transitional documentary, working between the Victory at Sea style and the 1990's Nugus-Martin style.

If you are comparing this series to what was broadcast on the History Channel, obviously all of the World War I episodes are not contained in this volume, as well as the Korea and Dien Bien Phu episodes.