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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authorative (but the menu is *utterly* hopeless)
I agree with the previous reviewer - the dreadful chapter-navigation interface on this collection makes it almost impossible to locate any particular episode.
I found it irksome and confusing both before (and after) I understood the structure of the index: it's a great pity that this transfer of an important TV documentary series to DVD has been subject to such an...
Published on 26 Dec 2003

versus
224 of 234 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Hi-Def Vs Painful Cropping of picture!
I read all the reviews above and opted to buy the blu-ray version. Obviously anyone reading this knows what an incredible ground breaking series this is. I am simply looking at the Blu-ray version. The new edition is presented in fantastic boxset, with amazing sound and extras.

BUT
The cropping issue is just so difficult not to notice. I found it a...
Published on 6 Sep 2012 by C. Sinclaire


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authorative (but the menu is *utterly* hopeless), 26 Dec 2003
By A Customer
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I agree with the previous reviewer - the dreadful chapter-navigation interface on this collection makes it almost impossible to locate any particular episode.
I found it irksome and confusing both before (and after) I understood the structure of the index: it's a great pity that this transfer of an important TV documentary series to DVD has been subject to such an amateurish and user-unfriendly index of the episodes. I assume the newer version (recently made available and advertised by Amazon at twice the price of the discs reviewed here) has a better interface.
More positively - the interviews. Whether from high-ranking officials or well-placed combatants (from all sides), some of whose names are known only as footnotes in the histories, much of WAW’s gravitas comes from interviews with people whose decisions, experience, trauma or hopes were instrumental in creating the ÒWorld War TwoÓ of common imagination. To hear Albert Speer or Christabel Bielberg or Traudl Junge or innumerable other witnesses discuss "their war" is as unique an experience as can be found outside the archives of the Imperial War Museum.
Almost all these witnesses are now dead. In an age when Revisionist theories are creating dramatic new perspectives on WW2, and on our understanding of how they impact on our contemporary political world-view, the testament of those ‘who were there’ takes on an even greater significance.
An essential part of any historian's reference collection.
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142 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular and important piece of work, 27 Nov 2002
In 1970, producer Jeremy Issacs wanted to create the " definitive televisual history of the Second World War" that "should balance out the 'view from the top' with the 'view from the bottom'". The World at War (TWaW) achieved this mammoth task and more, collecting nearly a million feet of interview and location film.
Preserved indefinitely on DVD format (on 10 discs), this series, as other reviewers have already commented, is impressive (to say the least). Added gravitas is provided by the great Sir Laurence Olivier as narrator. There seems no need to re-iterate the praise this DVD very much deserves/
The full episode contents of the DVD special edition are as follows:
* The Making of World at War (exclusive to DVD)
* A New Germany : 1933 - 1939
* Distant War : 1939 - 1940
* France Falls : May - June 1940
* Alone in Britain : May 1940 - June 1941
* Barbarossa : June - Dec 1941
* Banzai - Japan Strikes
* On Our Way - America Enters The War
* Desert - The War in North Africa
* Stalingrad
* Wolfpack
* Redstar - The Soviet Union : 1941 - 1943
* Whirlwind - Bombing Germany : September 1939 - April 1944
* Tough Old Gut
* It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow
* Home Fires
* Inside the Reich : Germany 1940 - 1944
* Morning
* Occupation
* Pincers
* Genocide
* Nemesis
* Japan 1941-45
* Pacific
* The Bomb
* Reckoning
* Remember
* Secretary to Hitler
* Who Won World War II?
* Warrior
* Hitler's Germany: 1933 - 1939
* Hitler's Germany: 1939 - 1945
* The Two Deaths of Hitler
* The Final Solution - Auschwitz Part 1
* The Final Solution - Auschwitz Part 2

Not only for the specialist or enthusiast, this is now a crucial collection of material that the forthcoming generations who should learn about their ancestors and the value of peace. This is a non-patronising series that is a must for every DVD collection.
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117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic WWII Films, 27 Dec 2005
By A Customer
The World at War (30th Anniversary Ed.) has 26 films that give a unique insight into the war as well as 8 presentations. The films have 3 elements. The archive black and white film runs for the majority of the programmes, the interviews of people who survived and lastly the narration of the story of WW2. Compared to modern series of WW2 these films have several attractions: Thoroughness, there are no general outlines of events with the whole war packed into 50mins. There are no actors. The narration is first rate and well researched. There is originality, even if you’ve read books on WW2 you will still find interest here, things you didn’t know, a memory, idea or opinion that makes you think.
These films portray the horrors of war with executions, concentration camps and bodies lying. This is war in its vulgarity. It is something that makes you feel sad. It also shows the form of this war in infantry, naval, aerial combat, and tank warfare to name a few. People interested in computer simulations of this period may be interested to see what these sims are aiming for. I found the main 26 episodes to be a great insight into WW2. The additional 8 presentations I didn’t like so much. This was mainly due to repetition. Even with my memory I recall previous interviews and archive scenes that were on the original series. This takes some of the originality away. If the 8 presentations are watched in isolation then this is fine. I did like some of the presentations and they are well researched, its just after the original I found them a little disappointing. I did find some trivial dislikes of the DVD package: The making of the series as the first film - this should be at the end. Anything narrated has a low signal level whereas music or explosions has a high signal level, this might be great for a cinema but I can hardly hear whats said. When you highlight the episode you want it changes colour but not by much. These things pale into insignificance compared to the towering achievement of the series. If you want a glimpse of what WW2 was like then this is a classic.
For:
Unique
Depth of research
Full of archive film of the conflict
Interviews with large section of survivors
Against:
Repetition in later presentations
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224 of 234 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Hi-Def Vs Painful Cropping of picture!, 6 Sep 2012
By 
C. Sinclaire - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World At War: The Ultimate Restored 40th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I read all the reviews above and opted to buy the blu-ray version. Obviously anyone reading this knows what an incredible ground breaking series this is. I am simply looking at the Blu-ray version. The new edition is presented in fantastic boxset, with amazing sound and extras.

BUT
The cropping issue is just so difficult not to notice. I found it a continual distraction. Especially in each an every interview, with chins and tops of heads missing. The quality of the picture is fantastic with amazing clarity. Why oh why did they have to do a hatchet job and cut what looks like about a 3rd out of the picture. SURELY they could have released with both original 4:3 and 16:9 options on the Blu-ray. Supposedly the makers claim you are just losing "non-important" material. But even on opening scene of the devastated french town I had to cringe when I saw how tops of buildings were cropped and the wrecked car seemed awkwardly cramped into the screen.

I wouldnt consider myself a 4:3 "purist" and in fact am more of a 16:9 blu-ray enthusiast. I awaited keanly for the Blu-ray release. I read the reviews and kept my fingers croosed I wouldnt notice the cropping. However now I have to say I am reconsidering whether to sell the blu-ray in favour of the DVD. I am going to buy the 2004 DVD special edition now and compare them side to side. I think as long as the DVD looks acceptable I will probably switch to this. After all this is a historical documentary NOT a hollywood movie. Hence I favour lower def but with the complete documentary non-cropped. I hope seriously the makers read these reviews and consider using the high def material they have to re-issue a 4:3 version in blu-ray, although sadly I doubt it. I think the high def/cropping will be a 50/50 dividing issue for most people. Shame the program makers made us all have to make this choice! Otherwise this would have been an ultimate edition.
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250 of 262 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot be repeated, 8 May 2007
By 
Wilz "wilson9hb" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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When first made many of the people directly involved at high level were still alive and their views, with hindsight, are fascinating. Many ordinary people, from all the countries involved (except USSR - behind the Iron Curtain at the time) give personal accounts. Not a boring history, this wonderful programme gives a clear view of the build up to, the progress of and the problems after the War that had a huge impact on my parents generation. Look at the "men" involved. 19 - 20 year olds - its unimaginable today. For any one who has only a limited idea of what went on, this is very revealing and instructive without being in any way like a school lesson. To be able to watch an episode whenever you want to is a joy and this quality of production goes to show what drivel we are now being fed.

It also gives an intriguing insight into why post war Europe has become what it now is and the whole film is, in my view, probably the most unbiased account you will get of such an event.

It stands, shoulder to shoulder, with "The Great War" which is another epic production this time covering World War 1 and produced by the BBC. Both should be compulsory viewing for schools.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative!, 4 Jan 2007
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This is the absolute best documentary overview of World War II around. It is beautifully narrated by Laurence Olivier, contains archive footage and takes you step by, ghastly, step through the events of the last world war. Don't be put off by the cost - this is a series which you will watch over and over again - it is worth every penny!
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Peak of Historical Documentary Making, 31 July 2003
The World at War is the benchmark to which all documentary programmes should be measured. Completed in the 70s with the benefit of Imperial War Museum sources, the series is vast offering detailed accounts of all facets of the Second World War. Despite its enormity, the World at War breaks the narrative down into a series of accessible episodes detailing the effects of the conflict across the globe.
Alongside the Great War, the World at War is one of the most impressive feats of historical programming available. Its haunting score, excellent narration and, above all, scale and depth set it apart from any more modern attempts to chart the war. By blending a wealth of footage with a variety of first hand accounts, the series provides a near comprehensive account of the events upto and during the war.
For anyone with an interest in Twentieth Century history, The World at War is essential viewing. Unless there's a warehouse's worth of new material available, it will be exceptionally difficult for anyone to come close to matching its coverage; even if the impetus was there to undertake such an immense project. We're lucky that thirty years ago producers were prepared to invest such effort into historical programming and whilst there are many good documentaries, The World at War is perhaps the finest achievement in this field.
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165 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible, 6 Feb 2006
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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The World at War never looked better. Digital re-mastering has made archive footage and colour interviews appear freshly-minted, and certainly justifies the upgrade if you already own the series on video. The sheer, moving quality of this documentary continues to deliver a powerful message over 30 years after it was made. The extra material is more than enough for the die-hard war documentary watcher. And it all takes up less room than one of those old plastic double video packs. Every world leader should be given a copy of this magnificent, essential series, and made to watch it before deciding on launching the world into another conflict.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best documentary ever made, 7 Mar 2001
By 
In a time full of documentaries made on a whim filled with 'experts' and computer generated reconstructions it is comforting to know that the World at War is still out there. Back in 1973 it shocked while it educated, never boring the viewer, keeping people watching through it's use of real footage and real people explaining their part in this, the most devestating conflict in human history. Laurence Olivier's understated but compassionate voice over adds yet more depth to the show while never interfering with it. As a whole the series is both horrifying and hard to stop watching, even though you know the outcome it is ever-engrossing. From the first episode about Germany between the wars to the final and my personal favourite of the originals, where they explore the ways of the soldier it continues to amaze, even thirty years on. And now on DVD it should have even greater impact, look at the price tag then realise there is about 30 hours of footage there. Then prepare to be amazed, and have your own unadulterated view of the conflict by the time you have finished.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Documentary On World War Two, 6 Nov 2002
By 
Mr. J. Walmsley "The Finch" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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For the modern viewer the series may look a little dated but in fact it has now become an historical document. Just like the footage from the war itself that dominates most of the running time, the interviews conducted for The World At War in the 1970's and often accompanied by hideous wallpaper and garish ties fitting for that decade have now become just as important. Appearances from such monumental and now deceased figures as Speer, Donitz and Mountbatten to name but a few, make it so. But also vital are the contributions of those who worked around the main players and those who actually fought the war or suffered its consequences. Their stories and experiences bring the war to life decades on from its conclusion.
The narration from Sir Laurence Olivier is superb. If ever someone were to be chosen to represent the English spoken language it surely would have been him with his perfect pronounciation and accent. He takes us through the story of World War Two with superbly delivered and well written dialogue. The various episodes, usually around 8 per each two disc set of which there are 5 in this special box set are well thought out and cover all aspects of the war in good detail.
I bought the individual DVD's over time rather than this box set but in terms of cost, if you are willing to spend on an intial outlay you save in the long run and can start watching the entire series straight away. Certainly worthwhile! The VHS version may be cheaper but for such a huge documentary series the easy accessability and high quality of DVD make it the only format worth buying. Extras wise it has virtually nothing but the episodes are more than enough for me.
Superb!
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