I notice that the majority of people scoring this DVD series a 1* because of crimes against the 4:3 format state that they haven't bothered to actually watch it. The vast majority of people rating it a 4* or 5* state that they have taken the time to watch it before rating it. Draw from that your own conclusions. How you can rate something you haven't actually seen is beyond me. People read these reviews to see opinions from people who have first hand experience of a product, not rants from the idealogs. This is precisely the kind of Daily Mail-esque, baseless moral outrage that led to Salman Rushdie being forced to live under house arrest as a result of death threats from people who never actually bothered to read his book. Perhaps they also think that was a good thing.
Personally I think the remastering of 'World at War' has been done quite well. The remastered 'crop' has been 'intelligently' applied to different areas of the 4:3 image depending on the content. So in some sequences it will be the top that's shown, in others the lower middle half, and so on. So it's a fully 'optimised' 16:9 crop, literally carried out frame by frame, and so far superior to the 'just middle bit' you'd get using TV zoom [where you could lose vital information from the top or bottom of the frame]. Likewise the 'sound effects' soundtrack was mostly added during the series production in the early 1970s, with the 1940s archive film generally being silent [e.g. often 16mm B&W combat film], so modifying the original 'World at War' soundtrack to 5.1 clarity isn't really any less false than the 1972 original broadcast.
The more I watch this remastered World at War DVD set, the more I love it, i.e. the content and clarity [rather than the cropping]. Ironically our main TV in the home is a hi-black 4:3 Sony CRT TV, where the 16:9 crop is predictably rather annoying, particularly as any standard-def 4:3 video looks superb on this TV. And you do lose interesting parts of the 4:3 frame, like bits of the landing craft foreground or tops of buildings - some cropping seems to have removed peoples heads - but of course you simply don't know unless you can compare it to the 4:3 original. So you don't get the view the original cameraman intended, which does seem a bit disrepectful, particularly for combat footage. Although I don't suppose the young men filming this wartime footage took too long framing each shot, I would have prefered the clouds, waves, grass and tops of heads left in at original 4:3, as it adds a lot to the ambience and it seems odd to delete them considering 'The World at War' prided itself on accuracy. If you want to view in 16:9 widescreen mode, no problem otherwise though, as the cropping works very well, and we can watch it on my 14 year sons PS3 hi-def widescreen LCD TV or on a PC via widescreen monitors - where it does look great, filling up the entire screen.
So, if you want to view The World at War in 16:9 widescreen then this DVD/Blu-ray set is definitely the best way to do it.
However if you would prefer to view the remastered series in the original 4:3 format, well tough luck at the moment I guess. Odd though, that I can think of no other 4:3 film or TV programme where the producers have even considered cropping the 4:3 screen, e.g. Bewitched, Lost in Space, Frost, Poirot, Caedfel, Miss Marple, The Great War, The Nazis: A Warning from History, The Belles of St Trinians, etc.., except perhaps Walt Disney's cartoon 'The sword in the stone' that was created in 4:3 format but with the top and bottom detail having nothing of consequence so that it could be shown in cropped widescreen at the cinema and still look good [the Disney DVD of the movie is in the original 4:3].
Here is why you are allowed to give low ratings. *There was no need to crop the series*. No need at all. Anyone but the utterly moronic can press the button on their widescreen TV that crops for them if they simply cannot tolerate black bars. The loss suffered by those people with a less than optimal crop will be far less than the loss suffered by *everyone* when they only ever see 60 or 70% of the picture. There are only two possible reasons for this choice: 1.a sop to the truly stupid who would rather miss the picture than have the black bars and can't make the effort to press a button on their remote control 2.Holding back a properly done version which thay can sell again at a later date.
(I think I will call your fatwa analogy a neo-godwin.)
The fact that people put their lives at risk to record the original footage in the first place is enough for it to be a crime that any studio can chop it at a later date, especially when the chop was unnecessary. A total disgrace and an insult to their memory. Shame on them.
The fact that anybody has taken the time to re-release the series in a modern format is worthy of praise. I doubt that they actually took a pair of scissors to the original film and cut off the top and bottom of it, so what harm has been done exactly? You or anyone else who is willing to invest their money and thinks it's commercially viable are quite welcome to use the footage to produce your own DVD series in any way you see fit. Until you do so, please don't criticise the efforts of others. Have you actually bothered to watch the new DVD version?
If you want to watch it in 4:3, buy the VHS set instead.
If you don't like the widescreen version, go buy the original 4:3 version & stop moaning. The 16:9 version is for people who actually like full screen without having to press the remote button, as TV zoom is generally rubbish & very grainy.
I have watched the widescreen version, and I thought it was done very well.
Well, 4:3 has been released on DVD too. The point is that trouble was taken to restore the series frame by frame, and then only 70% of the restored series is being released. It would be perfectly possible to release the series in some kind of dual format (like the star wars sets that have originals and anniversary versions).
Those people adding 1 star reviews are (in my opinion) being rather helpful. As big a warning as they can manage regarding the missing parts of the series. For example it is perfectly possible that this will be bought as a present for someone like me. If I received this set, it would be returned as soon as I found it was pan and scanned. The allegedly baseless one star reviews (all of which take time to praise the series' content) might prevent someone's disappointment.
The old 4:3 World at War DVD set has been discontinued for a while now, so it's no longer an option unless you are happy to part with £100 for a 'new' copy via Amazon resellers (although granted it is now appearing cheaply second-hand). However this new 'Ultimate' cropped set has far superior video & sound quality and is just £25 at the moment, fantastic value, and it has the subtitles we need. So despite the occasional irritation at losing 25% of the 35mm/19mm footage with a 16:9 crop I'll stick with this cheaper new set, well until the fully remastered 4:3 'Ultimate Ultimate Restored Edition of the World at War' DVD set is released...