Customer Reviews


30 Reviews
5 star:
 (25)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War
This a marvellous collection from both a documentary and historical standpoint. It comes with a 63 booklet encapsulating the material on each of the 6 disks. It demonstrates what the BBC can do well. First broadcast in 1964 and it would appear only recently being committed to DVD format. It is superior to recent DVDs on the subject eg World War I in Colour and The...
Published on 10 Nov 2010 by MJD-Australia

versus
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unwatchable
It is an historic artefact and should be handled and viewed with this in mind. The impact it had on me as a boy in the 1970s came from the title sequence, viewing 26 episodes should be undertaken in the way it was transmitted : one episode per week rather than all of it over a weekend for the purposes of a Masters degree assignment. Watched with a history of war on TV...
Published 7 months ago by Jonathan F. Vernon


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War, 10 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
This a marvellous collection from both a documentary and historical standpoint. It comes with a 63 booklet encapsulating the material on each of the 6 disks. It demonstrates what the BBC can do well. First broadcast in 1964 and it would appear only recently being committed to DVD format. It is superior to recent DVDs on the subject eg World War I in Colour and The First World War. Of particular interest are the interviews with World War I veterans both Allied and German combatants, at a time when they were far from being in their dotage. It is on a par at every level with The World at War.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War, 7 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this DVD set after watching the World at War, a similar series on WW2. I was not disappointed. This has to be one of the best documentaries, and now that the first world war has passed from living memory, at least to the extent that all british soldiers who fought have now passed on, this is also a very important documentary. This is one of the few places to find first hand accounts of the battles in Belgium, Mesopotamia, and Africa etc. I found the criticism of the government of the time for failing to provide the necessary ammunition to fight a war rather telling given that the same criticism has been made of recent governments! Although I dont think todays soldiers have to make grenades out of old beef tins!

Highly recommended. "He who keeps one eye on the past is blind in one eye. He who ignores the past is blind in both eyes..." Not sure if that is a real quote but I like it like that. If you want to know the start of the story that leads to the modern British involvement in Iraq it starts here in WW1.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before World at War there was The Great War, 26 Sep 2010
By 
Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
The World at war is known as a landmark production in television, without doubt the best WW2 documentary ever made and this is well established.

The Great War is a BBC production that predates World at War by almost 20 years. A black and white documentary that follows the course of World War 1 in a series that puts World War 1 in the best context that I have ever seen and I often rewatch the episodes.

World War 1 is often passed over as a stagnant trench warfare, yet it was far more dynamic and it shaped the world as it is today, including World War 2 as is often remarked, the last bullet fired in World War 1 was the first of World War 2.

The documentary is different in style then what we are used to today but it has such class that I think it has aged very well. It also surprised me to see how much actual film footage was available from the war. It is heavily narrated and quoted with poems and letters of great men of the time but this is simply the way it was done then and the BBC have always taken their job seriously. To this interviews with veterans from the war are added and it becomes a rare insight into the first world war.

I have seen several episodes since about events of World War 1 but no series does the whole war as much justice and completeness than this series. If you are interested in military history then this is a set to be owned.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching history., 25 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
The images of this documentary are truly amazing. This documentary was made almost fifty years ago, about an event that happened fifty years before. It is probably one of the first major world events captured in moving images. WWI has never seemed so real to me. I grew up seeing images and films of WWII, but never the First World War. A brilliant documentary, that set the standard for future documentaries.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREATEST WAR DOCUMENTARY EVER MADE, 8 Jan 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
These wonderful recordings were made in 1964 when there were still living many survivors from both sides in their sixties and seventies, fully compos mentis and with vivid memories. Their accounts and the expert commentary - and also the wonderful narration, with the unforgettable Welsh voice of Emlyn Williams reading the words of Lloyd George - make this series. Add to that extraordinary photography - some of it no doubt staged but not all; Allenby walking into Jerusalem is unforgettable.

When it was broadcast (before the VCR was invented) it became the main event of the week and social events were not arranged for the night it was shown because nobody would show - the pubs and restaurateurs hated it!

There will never be anything this good again. Buy it. Today.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic documentary series on World War I, 3 April 2011
By 
The Observer (Heidelberg Germany) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
This is regarded, quite rightly, as a jewel in the BBC documentary crown. It is a most informative and well-made documentary on the start, course, and end of the First World War. In view of the time it deals with, there is a quite astonishing amount of original film material to be seen. Of course, some later studio film scenes have had to be utilised, but that does not detract in the least from the general effect. A great advantage of the series is that it also lets eyewitnesses - participants - talk; around 1960-1963, when this was made, such interviews were still possible. This represents an invaluable contribution to history.

The Great War has been described by some as a template for the later Thames Valley TV series The World At War, and this is surely true. The earlier series set the tone by attempting to describe the view from all sides, rather than just that of the eventual victors. This is of particular importance when dealing with the First World War, as many mistakes were made on all sides, and many experiences were the same, especially on the Western Front.

If you are interested in war history, military history, or history in general, then do not miss this. It is worth everything you pay for it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent series, 1 Jun 2010
By 
Teemacs (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
The Great War (First World War/WW1) was a major divide in world history. It destroyed four empires and mortally wounded a fifth. It laid the foundations for the current Middle East conflict and the advance of the USA to the leading position it still holds - and of course the foundations for the much greater catastrophe 25 years later. It also triggered the beginning of the end of European colonialism and massive social upheavals such as the advancement of women.

Having recently seen ITV's classic "The World at War", I was reminded of this earlier BBC series of the earlier conflict, which had appeared on the then-new BBC2 during my student days. Sir Jeremy Isaacs, producer of "The World at War", frankly confessed his admiration for it. I found to my surprise that it has only recently been made available on DVD, having hidden in the BBC archives for half a century. It is a LOT more expensive that the ITV series.

Is it worth it? For amateur students of human folly such as myself, most definitely yes. In retrospect, it is astounding that it was made at all. The BBC put a lot of authentic film together - I was surprised at how much there actually was, and found the quality sometimes amazingly good. There is quite a bit of clearly acted footage ( "All quiet on the Western Front"?), and the same shots are often repeated (the German soldier throwing a "potato masher" grenade comes up time and again). And then there are the big guns and explosions - lots and lots of big guns and explosions. Lots of the same big guns and explosions. Understandable, I guess, as massive bombardments were a feature of the battles of the Great War.

A particularly nice feature is the mass of interviews of veterans from all nations. As I write, Harry Patch, last surviving British Great War combatant, has recently died at the age of about a million and a half. When this series was made, the veterans were not old men in their dotage, but middle-aged men, whose memories of the events were sharp and clear. Unfortunately, there is nothing from the decision-makers, who are all presumably currently confronting their Maker and trying to explain their actions away.

So, in the light of 50 years of more recent scholarship, how does "The Great War" stand up? To my eyes (and I make no pretence of being a scholar), pretty well. It does not settle the argument that still rages on in the UK at least - were the British generals incompetent butchers, who fed men into the mincing machine of the Western Front to cover up their cluelessness, or were they merely men caught up in titanic events the like of which had never been seen or envisaged, and who did the best they could with the means available? The series seems to lean towards the latter view. Certainly Sir Douglas Haig's comment that the German Army had to be defeated is often repeated.

Generals are taught to manoeuvre on a battlefield, to outflank the enemy. What is left if outflanking is no longer possible is frontal attack, against entrenched positions, fortified by whole forests of barbed wire and covered by machine guns. And that's what the often-maligned Haig did. The first day on the Somme, on which so many of my Northern Irish countrymen died, has been described as "the greatest British military disaster since the Battle of Hastings". But Haig perservered and the Somme not only took the pressure off the French at Verdun, but also gave the Germans the first inklings of doubt that they might not win.

I was also pleased to see the enormous contribution of the United States recognised. The USA is often characterised as having arrived late in the piece. But the USA had to build up a major army from very little - and without the USA and its enormous industrial might (even then it was not a rival country but a rival continent) and magnificent fighting spirit of the Doughboys, the war would not have been won.

Several negative points in my opinion. Much use (rather too much in my opinion) is made of the sombre British war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, to try to capture the misery of the trenches, of men called upon to endure the unendurable. And the end leaves you with cheering crowds at war's end. I'd also have liked analysis of the Versailles Treaty, which, along with an embittered Austrian corporal lying in hospital recovering from a British gas attack when the Armistice came, were to set the scene for Round 2, 20 years later.

The narration (largely by Sir Michael Redgrave with the help of other distinguished voices) is splendid, and obviously the inspiration for the use of the (even better) Lord Olivier in "The World at War". The music score is sometimes overdone and intrusive, but generally fits in quite well. I was particularly amused by the constant appearance of a splendid brass version of "What a friend we have in Jesus", often in battle scenes! It transpires that the British Army used it, with, er, slightly modified words:

When this bl***y war is over
I'll be happy as can be!
When I put my civvy suit on
No more soldiering for me!
No more church parades on Sunday!
No more begging for leave pass
I will tell the sergeant-major
He can shove it (where the sun never shines)!

It sums up the feeling of the Tommy/Fritz/poilu in the firing line very well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable, epic project, 6 May 2013
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
Having just finished the series I have to say it was a remarkable achievement - one cannot imagine a contemporary television station attempting such an epic project in such a serious minded way. The modern compulsion to entertain is disregarded; the resulting programmes are as repetitious and unrelentingly grim as the conflict itself. The visual evidence alone, collected from archives worldwide, makes this an invaluable resource and a compelling experience to view.

Having said that, it is of its time, and I have some minor criticisms. Of necessity sound is added to the silent footage, which occasionally seems contrived and jars. Although the majority of the images appear to be documentary footage of the events described, occasional shots seem to have been made for other purposes; possibly including instructional films, propaganda reconstructions, or even fictional films. Very occasionally the same piece of footage is reused in another context, which momentarily undermines the authenticity of the project.

The historical narrative is sober and informative. Modern historians might be more critical of the political leaders and generals, and have made greater use of the oral histories which are highly edited, and used primarily to support the historical narrative rather than tell of the individuals' experiences. There might in fact be another very interesting film that could be made by re-editing the original interviews, if they still exist.

Watching this series is a big investment of time at around 17 hours, and I did occasionally wonder if I might gain a better understanding of the war by reading a couple of good contemporary histories? But no, it really is a remarkable piece of work, telling the story through the unique language of film.

In the end one is left wondering how these armies kept replenishing themselves with willing young men, who were slaughtered at such a rate over so many years?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Series, 18 April 2013
By 
David A. Edwards (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
I've no need to add to the superlatives. I've two points:

(1) Tremendous title music by Wilfred Josephs. His other great title music was for I, Claudius, and those two compositions alone mark him out as a first rank composer in this field. The "Great War" title music is clearly inspired by the "dark" music of Vaughan Williams (the 4th and 6th Symphonies). The "I, Claudius" title has distinct shades of Kurt Weill. But this ability to write in others' styles (entirely appropriate in each case) in no way diminishes his achievement.

(2) I remember reading that a lot of trouble had been taken to show this period footage at the correct natural speed. Since the film will have been largely shot at 16 frames per second, running it on the standard telecine machines would have produced the undesirable "under-cranked" (= sped up) look that we often associate with comedy silents. I believe this was avoided, and a natural speed was achieved, by repeating every other frame, making it the standard 24 frames per second. Before the age of digital manipulation of video, this must have involved an expensive mechanical process. Anyone got any thoughts on this?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War BBC DVD Series, 15 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
One of the most incredible historical documents you will ever see. The footage has been restored to a very high quality considering its age. The historical information and insights make it a must for any student of history
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD]
The Great War - BBC Series 6 Disc Boxset [DVD] by michael redgrave (DVD - 2009)
Used & New from: 129.00
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews