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World War II: Lost Films [DVD]

51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: None
  • Dubbed: None
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: None
  • Audio Description: None
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: History Channel
  • DVD Release Date: 26 April 2010
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,454 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The only people to see the war like this were the ones who lived it. Until now… Seventy years in the making. Three thousand hours of colour footage no one knew existed. The first documentary to show World War II from the perspective of both sides in full, immersive HD colour, the HISTORY™ series WWII in HD uses the diaries of soldiers who fought in the war’s biggest battles to create a personal, introspective and detailed look at life on and off the front lines. Though it was illegal for U.S. soldiers to carry diaries, many hid them away in their packs and recorded their experiences in detail. Now, through the use of these diaries and other source documents, as well as HD colour and on-location shooting around the world, WWII in HD transforms their journey into a tangible piece of history. Culled from rare colour archival footage from an exhaustive worldwide search and converted to HD with meticulous technique, WWII in HD provides a picture of World War II as it has never been seen before.

Episode 1: Darkness Falls
By 1940 Europe has erupted into war, while America does its best to stay out of it. But after Pearl Harbour, America finds itself thrust into a two-front war it is ill-prepared to fight. Darkness Falls Austrian immigrant Jack Werner flees the Nazis and comes to America, where he enlists in the Army so he can join the fight against Hitler. Other young men, like farmhand Archie Sweeney, are pulled in by the draft. Gung-ho combat reporter Richard Tregaskis lands with the Marines on the jungle island of Guadalcanal. College senior Charles Scheffel hastily gets married before deploying to North Africa.

Episode 2: Hard Way Back
America has joined England in the fight against the Axis, but is undecided as to how to proceed. Rookie platoon leader Charles Scheffel suffers his first losses as he battles Rommel’s Afrika Korps in Tunisia. Also in Tunisia, wise-cracking nurse June Wandrey gets her first taste of the war’s horrors. Farmhand Archie Sweeney is shot dead while on patrol. Meanwhile Sergeant Jack Werner experiences his first taste of active combat against the Japanese in a bitter battle to retake the Aleutian Islands.

Episode 3: Bloody Resolve
By late 1943 America’s industrial might is starting to gear up. But when combat journalist Robert Sherrod lands on Tarawa, the machines the Marines were counting on fail them, turning Tarawa into one of the bloodiest Pacific battles yet waged. Marine Nolen Marbrey joins MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign in the South Pacific, but his patrol is lost behind enemy lines on New Britain. Meanwhile reporter Richard Tregaskis leaves the Pacific for the front lines of Italy’s bitter slugfest, where he is hit by enemy mortar.

Episode 4 - Battle Stations
As 1944 opens, the Allies are feverishly planning for the invasion of France. Starry-eyed pilot Bert Stiles joins the decimated 8th Air Force as they try to clear the skies over Normandy. In the Pacific, battle-hungry Jack Werner is frustrated during the Americans’ attempts to seize the valuable airfields of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Charles Scheffel is in England, preparing for the D-Day invasion. Finally, D-Day arrives.

Episode 5: Day of Days
America is on the offensive, but hopes for a speedy victory are premature. Lt. Charles Scheffel is hit on his way into the Normandy beaches and must recover in an English hospital. In the Pacific, reporter Robert Sherrod accompanies the massive invasion of the heavily defended island of Saipan, where Japanese civilians become part of the war’s tragic equation. Naïve Navy enlistee Jack Yusen survives a r


At first glance, the very concept of WWII in HD seems like an oxymoron. After all, isn't the footage from back then nothing more than grainy black-and-white newsreel? And really, how much definition can be added to film that was shot more than 60 years ago? The answers: no, and quite a lot, actually. The quality of much of what is seen in the course of these 10 episodes (each around 45 minutes long) is surprisingly good. Add to that the fact that most of it is in colour (not colorized, but originally recorded in that medium, some at the behest of the United States government), and the result is nothing short of astonishing. It's not easy viewing; there are sequences that are shockingly graphic (vivid examples include the carnage on view after major battles and the shots of Japanese civilians on the Pacific island of Saipan hurling themselves off cliffs to avoid capture by American troops). But all of it has been put to good use in what is undoubtedly one of the most compelling accounts of World War II ever produced.

Other documentaries have chronicled the same events seen here, from the earliest days of the war (when Hitler was overrunning Europe and the ill-prepared Americans were still years away from becoming involved), through Pearl Harbor, the major confrontations with the Japanese in the Pacific theatre (like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the incomparably bloody Iwo Jima) and with the Germans in Europe and North Africa (the invasion of Tunisia, D-day, the Battle of the Bulge), and straight on to victory in Europe and finally the Japanese surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But what separates WWII in HD is the filmmakers' decision to view these events through the experiences of a dozen individuals who were actually there, including a couple of war correspondents (one of whom, Richard Tregaskis, was the author of the seminal Guadalcanal Diary); an Austrian immigrant who escaped the Nazis and almost immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army; a nurse with General George Patton's Third Army; an African-American pilot who was one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen; a Japanese-American medic who fought heroically while his family was held in an internment camp; and others from the rank and file. All of them are voiced by such actors as Rob Lowe, Amy Smart, Steve Zahn, Josh Lucas, and LL Cool J; and with Gary Sinise providing voice-over narration, the whole piece comes off as a dramatic film as much as a straight documentary (an effect also enhanced by some brilliantly creative juxtapositions of words, images, and music). Not all of these men and women made it through the war (those still alive also appear in on-camera interviews), but none could ever forget the horrors they witnessed, and while those of us who did not serve will never really comprehend the sacrifices they made, this remarkable programme may be as close as we can get. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Coolman on 9 April 2012
Format: DVD
My set seems to be missing at least one disc.

The first disc starts with the attack on Pearl Harbour and I was sure there had been some earlier battles - in the skies over Britain, on land in North Africa and, oh yes, a skirmish or two in Russia. There was also the odd problem in the North Atlantic as I recall.

Does anyone else have this problem of the missing first disc? It has bothered me so much I can't watch any more of what I thought might be a nice history lesson.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Nov. 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I'm not normally an avid watcher of WW II documentaries, and thought as many others did that the final and definitive word has been spoken on the subject, in the BBC World at War series The World At War: The Ultimate Restored Edition 2010 [Blu-ray]. However, this series adds a new scope and dimension to remembering the Second World War. The combination of the approach to the material, and the material itself, has produced something incredibly memorable, sobering, informative, and essential viewing. The material is colour footage, mostly unseen until now, found, as the series prologue says, over a two year search. This has been photographed with High definition, to preserve the material. So what you are saying is high definition version of material of various quality - 8mm, 16mm, often blemished with the ravages of time. Seeing this material, which mostly reflects the Pacific campaign, though North Africa and Europe are well represented, is extraordinary. The distance emotionally and time-wise from the events that you have when seeing them in black and white, is not so easy when presented with the stark reality in colour. It makes the moments more vivid, and more human.. which brings us to how they have handled this material. Rather than try and tell the story of the war from a broad overview of tactics etc - we see the events through 12 different peoples first hand perspective. This is war, as seen through the eyes of individuals, not the historians's traditional dispassionate approach. If there is a down side, it is that this is a very America-centric view of the war, starting from Pearl Harbour and concluding with VJ Day.Read more ›
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Scram Voyager on 18 Aug. 2010
Format: Blu-ray
So, as with all Blu-Rays in my collection, I move my seat closer to the screen to enjoy the cinematic resolution offered by Blu-Ray - and after a half hour of varied quality imagery, sat back in my seat for what is effectively a standard (for UK, not for the US) resolution set of archive footage. What's notably worse in the archive footage is a curious mixture of 4:3 original, either stretched to widescreen (wrong aspect ratio), or cropped to widescreen (missing top and bottom). It has a mix mostly of genuine colour footage but includes far too much of the bane of all documentary purists - 'colorised' black and white footage, which looks like it came from the 'Battlefront in Color' DVD set. For example, I've seen much higher quality newsreel based footage of Pearl Harbour elsewhere. Here the focus has been on previously unseen colour footage which is quite poor in quality and limited in coverage, given the enormity of the event.

The opportunity that has been missed with much of this archive footage is the lack of digital restoration. With only a few exceptions, there has generally been no obvious attempt to stabilise, or clean up the dust and scratches on the footage they used (and I don't include 'colorisation' which here is mostly worse than the black and white footage). This is more true of the early days of the war - the first 2-3 episodes. The picture quality situation (probably due to the volume of colour archival footage increasing as we progress chronologically through the war) does appear to improve with later programmes in the series.

I've seen comparisons on the US site to 'the World at War'. With the greatest respect, such a comparison is not sensible to make.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Speedigee on 21 May 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This film series received a lot of adverse criticism because it only featured Americans and gave the impression that they had won the war for us. It is probably true to say that without the help of the US, the war could have been lost and would almost certainly have lasted much longer. It should be borne in mind that this was an American production, so the prime focus was on the US involvement. A lot of the footage was set in the Pacific and the Allies were not so much involved and hence did not appear nor even get a mention. The US only entered the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and had to fight on two fronts. Their first action in Europe was Operation Torch in North Africa, in 1942. The Allies were given full credit for their part in that and also in the D-Day landings where the Americans suffered very heavy losses on Omaha Beach. From North Africa the Americans joined the Allies in attacking Sicily and Italy and then advancing through southern France to join up with the invasion forces coming from the north. They bore the brunt of the attack in the Ardennes, in the Battle of the Bulge. Again, this being an American production, the film concentrated on the activities of the US troops but credit was given to the involvement of the Allies, where appropriate. The US and the Allies co-operated all the way across Europe to Berlin and this was clearly stated.

The whole series was seen through the eyes of twelve US participants with occasion flashes to the present day where they reminisced about their experiences. I did not find this at all odd. A similar technique was used in `Band of Brothers' where all the battle footage was recreated by actors. In this series the battle scenes were genuine archive footage.
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