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World War 1 : The Great War - Complete BBC Series (7 Disc Box Set) [DVD]

Ralph Richardson , Cyril Luckham    Exempt   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
Price: 349.99
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Frequently Bought Together

World War 1 : The Great War - Complete BBC Series (7 Disc Box Set) [DVD] + The First World War - Complete Series [DVD] + World War 1 In Colour - Complete TV Series [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Ralph Richardson, Cyril Luckham, Sebastian Shaw, Marius Goring, Michael Redgrave
  • Format: Box set, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Dd Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Mar 2002
  • Run Time: 1105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000634BA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,976 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

The complete 1960s BBC documentary series on the Great War, with all 26 episodes. Narrated by Sir Michael Redgrave, this series features the best archive footage from one million feet of film and 20,000 photographs collected from 37 individual sources worldwide. There are interviews with war veterans and extracts from diaries, letters and reports from the war.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
339 of 342 people found the following review helpful
First released in 1964 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, this epic piece of television has now reached a vintage which might suggest it has outlasted its shelf-life and should be consigned to a peaceful archive. This is precisely what happened to it for a while, but in recent years the BBC has chosen to give the series a fresh airing ... and, in many respects, it appears fresher and more dynamic than it did in 1964.
In 1964 there were still plenty of people around who had vivid memories of the Great War. I used to watch my uncle Chay shaving - his back, shoulders and right arm were covered in hundreds of little black marks, tiny shrapnel fragments and debris left over from the Western Front. I remember numbers of men with artificial legs - remember a couple of my friends whose grandfather's spare legs would be ostentatiously parked behind the couch. I remember the 1914 brass Princess Mary Christmas boxes on display in scores of households, remember captured German pickelhaubs and belt buckles, or the gold watch my grandfather liberated from a Turkish officer in the Dardenelles.
In 1964, the First World War was still alive in Scotland ... and the hundreds of war memorials testified to that, listing the names of local men who'd died fighting not just in Scottish or British units, but who'd enlisted in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, or the USA, and had died fighting under their colours.
In 1964, I watched the series with my uncle Chay. In 1964, it was living history and I could follow it in the presence of a veteran. In 2005, I can still watch it and feel its sense of immediacy. This had nothing to do with nostalgia. In 1964, the BBC broadcast a living oral history of the War.
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130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great as in 'big' 26 Jan 2004
It hasn't really dated. It's in black and white, because television was black and white in 1968, but it fits the era and the material; on the evidence presented here, the war did not lend itself to vivid colour. Sir Michael Redgrave's diction is classically-trained in a way that modern voiceover people are not (his pronounciation of 'Krupp' is impossible to forget), but again this fits the period. Although some episodes drag, the writing is punchy and gets to the point, whilst the interview subjects - mostly in their late sixties - get their point across too. The interviews are odd to watch, as the participants are slightly young than the WW2 veterans that appear in modern-day documentaries, albeit in stark monochrome.
When not interviewing WW1 veterans the series is almost entirely archive footage, with a few rostrumed photographs. The amount and depth of this footage is astonishing, especially as most subsequent documentaries on the war tend to overuse the same few pieces (a shot of a mine detonating on the eve of the Somme in particular). Inevitably, some of the footage was culled from pre-war training films or post-war reconstructions; it is illustration rather than documentary, just as Ralph Richardson 'acts' the part of Haig, there being no extant recordings of Haig's voice.
As mentioned elsewhere, writing duties were handled by a team headed by John Terraine, who died at the end of 2003. Terraine was famous at the time for bucking the prevailing post-WW1 viewpoint, that the Great War had been prolonged by stupid incompetents such as Field Marshal Haig; he instead argued that Haig was a victim of circumstance, and that he did well bearing the constraints under which he operated.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The documentary par excellence. 4 Aug 2002
One reason to watch this long documentary is to get inside this most horrific of wars. Much original footage is backed up by reminiscences of those who fought in the war itself. You will find out what actually happened. The other reason to watch this is the sheer quality of the documentary - which puts to shame most of today's documentaries. There is no "presenter" or personality to stand between you and what happened. No political or moral position is taken; the events speak for themselves. You will want to watch this again and again long after you will have forgotten most of the others.
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146 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive history of World War One! 26 April 2002
By A Customer
I still remember watching this milestone documentary when it was was originally broadcast in 26 episodes by the BBC in the early 1960s and it is without doubt one of the finest documentaries ever produced on World War One. Every aspect of the war is painstakingly covered and the inspired narration of Sir Michael Redgrave is a revelation. The picture quality is variable but this is only to be expected from film footage of this age but it is the images that are so compelling. Quite simply, this documentary is a masterpiece!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I am not sure, when I read other reviews, quite what some people expect. This is the history, in film, of a terrible event almost 100 years ago. Understandably the film quality is sometimes poor, monochrome and in parts a little tedious. The whole war was one of stalemate so no one should expect the global movement and recognisable events seen in WW2. From a different time and perspective, this long programme is very informative, gives a clear understanding of what led up to and influenced the whole sorry mess, is extremely well narrated and astonishingly moving. It shows what my Grandfather experienced whilst still a lad of 19 or so and whilst I find it hard to empathise with my Fathers experiences in WW2, I just cannot begin to comprehend how these young men coped.
My generation could see the consequences of this conflict in their relatives (or the lack of them!) but my teenaged children don't even know that such a war took place. This film will stand for generations to come as a living history of how stupid man can be and why we must continue to question the actions of Leaders if we value our hard won freedom. As I said about that other masterpiece, The World at War, modern history should be compulsory in all secondary schools and this should be a part of the syllabus.
If you can afford it, buy it, watch it over the long winter nights and see if you too are not overcome by anger at those in charge, amazement at the stupidity of many at home and emotion at the waste and loss of life. It will at least help you understand why the French Army had so many morale problems in 1939/40. Just do the numbers!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
as advertised
Published 2 days ago by Angela Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Military Documentary
I've many box-sets of military history and I consider this particular documentary to be the best, by far. It is detailed and accurate and covers most aspects of the great war. Read more
Published 2 months ago by stephen john lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering.
Pleased to be the owner of such a prize collection of history not to be forgotten.. our son will watch this series and will see how lucky life is for people today and that how they... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Heather
3.0 out of 5 stars The Great War
Good commentary and some interesting footage, though about half way through some of the film footage is repeated, making me think there was a fault, though thankfully the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. Wyn-Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Reviews
It is not a revamp of the BBC Series which you are led to believe if you read the published read the reviews
Published 5 months ago by M Bevington
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War Comes To Life
If you are seeking a dispassionate record in film of The Great War 1914-19, to add to your DVD collection, then look no further. Read more
Published 5 months ago by G. HOLMES
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the BBC version.
Most of the reviews for this DVD reference the 1964 BBC TV series, which this clearly is not. Unfortunately I didn't read the other 1 star review prior to purchasing! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War
I saw this superb series in the 60's and it has been a privilege to watch it agin in the year of the centenary and hearing the still relatively young voices of the men who were... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mary Sharon Hancock
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it if you want to know about the Great War
Made by the BBC to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Great War in 1914 it is a fascinating and detailed account. Read more
Published 11 months ago by s.a.lavan
4.0 out of 5 stars The agony
In 1964 the BBC was about to launch the new channel of BBC 2 (nicknamed 'Custard') and was looking for an introductory series. Read more
Published 14 months ago by James Wells
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