You have never seen anything like this on DVD !
Andrew R. Henderson | Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom | 07/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I expect as you read this, the most two most important questions of your mind (if you're thinking of buying this DVD) is; what is the picture quality like and is it better that the other `WW2 in Color' DVD. The short answer is the picture quality is consistently superb - sharp, saturated and clear. Over three hours of bewildering, sad, horrific and poignant color film. The other DVD is a very good effort, but cannot compete because the new DVD contains footage never before seen anywhere in the last 60 years. This new DVD has been carefully re-packaged to disguise the fact that it is a British-made Documentary aired last year only in Britain (1999). What distinguishes this from out of the ordinary is not just the picture quality, but what you will see in color. It took three years for the team working on this project to find some of the material. You might think you have seen all possible color footage from WW2, but you will be stunned by some of the 35mm material in this DVD. Much of the new footage comes from two sources; Kodachrome 16mm color film shot by both the Germans (up to 1941), so for example, you will see the movies of an SS General who lead the invasion of France. You will see the pre-war build up in Britain, which starts with the optimism of the 1937 British Coronation (in rare 35mm Dufaycolor) and leads on to extraordinary fiery red images of London being bombed by night. You will see America on the dawn of Pearl Harbour and color film of the actual attack. Other footage is shot on 16mm German Agfacolor stock and includes the only color film of the Warsaw Ghetto, with the sharp, clear color looking so real that you may think it was only shot recently. Another film is perhaps the most horrifying, footage, which defies detailed description as it shows the day that an SS Troop rounded up the unfortunate Male population of a rural town and executed them by both hanging and rifle. This footage is so shocking that you will never forget how terrifying this war is (you may find this footage distressing, I found it disturbing). The clear color burns the images into your mind. It is all here; Pearl Harbour/Battle Of The Atlantic/ Stalingrad/Pacific/D-DAY/ Berlin/Buchenwald/Dachau/Hiroshima/ Nagasaki/Paris Liberated/Germany 1938-9/London/The Spanish Civil War. A quiet, respectful commentary by actor John Thaw is augmented by Diary readings from the people who saw the events. This restrained approach is all that is needed as the footage speaks for itself. At the end of the war, we close on footage of Times Square by day as New Yorkers celebrate V.J. day. You will feel as if the footage is so real as to be a fake, but it isn't and all the more moving because of that. Here are ordinary people, just like you and I, trapped on color film and shown a half century later. The images live on. If you want just one DVD about WW2, buy this and never forget what you will experience."
Eerie, hypnotic, gut-wrenching
bruce horner | 11/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an astonishing set of videos. First there is the jaw-dropping, almost hallucinogenic experiance of seeing WWII events in technicolor. It reminds one of how much black-and-white film aestheticizes and abstracts events. Admittedly our eyes don't see in technicolor either, but the color makes you feel far more psychologically "there" so to speak. The second thing is the amazing quality of most of this footage. It hardly seems to have aged at all in 55-60 years! When you consider that film from the 1960's sometimes looks atrociously degraded and washed out, the almost pristine look of this footage is remarkable to say the least. It must have been stored well and never projected. (Of course, the producers could choose the best-looking bits from what was reputedly hundreds of hours of rediscovered film.) Watching this film is a tremendously emotional experiance, sometimes frightening, sometimes grueling, sometimes stomach-turning. The voice-over narration makes heavy use of contemporary letters and diaries of soldiers and civilians, and is often touching. The cumulative impact of all this----the island fighting, Nazi rallies, shipyard workers, civilians hanged by Nazis, radiation victims, Pearl Harbor wreckage, air war footage, death camps, and on and on----is almost overwhelming. Like having your nose shoved into the sheer mess and folly of mass war. Now that I hear that the UK version of this documentary was narrated by the redoubtable John Thaw I'd love to see THAT version, but otherwise I unreservedly recommend this to anyone and everyone. Too many people think of documentaries as boring but this demonstrates how mesmerizing they can be. For anyone too young to have first-hand memories of it (which is most of the population now) this makes WWII far more visceral than you ever thought possible."
Powerful Images of the 20th Century's Most Significant Event
bruce horner | 03/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having read dozens of books on World War Two and having seen many documentaries in the classroom or on my own, I was a little skeptical that simply seeing this footage in color would bring it even more to life. But I certainly was wrong. This is amazing footage from a 3-part History Channel program that presents World War II in color, and there's no way you're going to forget it. Most haunting is the bonus footage of Adolf Hitler hanging out with friends, playing with a dog, petting the animal, playing with children. Seeing a monster in this sort of setting only makes more horrific the Holocaust and Hitler's grand vision of Liebenstraum. Then the footage of Auschwitz and Dachau is enough to haunt you forever. Seeing it in black and white was powerful enough. Seeing it in color, the blank stares of corpses piled up one on top of another in the back of a truck is something that you will never forget. And when you see the kamikaze attack on Okinawa, you'll sit there stunned.
In all, the entire 3-DVD series makes for some unforgettable viewing, strung together with historically accurate narration, most of it from diary entries or letters from the average person. For it was roughly 40 million average persons whose lives were lost in this event. As Roger Mudd ends the series, he talks about how Steven Ambrose' D-Day center now houses the color footage of the Normandy Invasion, so, as Ambrose said, future generations would realize that seeing this in color would show that World War Two was not ancient history. Once you see this, you'll never forget that."
bruce horner | 09/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The review above says it all, but I felt I needed to reinforce how astounding the quality of this video, and its powerful emotional impact really is.Seeing the screaming, cheering hordes in Nazi rallies, death camp and Hiroshima survivors, and the SS activities in full color cannot be described sufficiently. Every aspect of the war is here, and b/c of the clearness of the video, appears to have taken place far more recently than 55 years ago. If you have any interest in WWII, this is a MUST buy. 2 complaints: I wish it were longer (it is about 3 hours), and I believe that there were some factual errors mentioned in the video. Hopefully, A&E/History Channel will come out with an additional "color set" as they mentioned that this video set came from "hundreds of hours of color film.""