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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 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 2012 by C. Sinclaire


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198 of 210 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Butchered, but don't let that put you off, 25 2010
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are really two main considerations you need to balance over whether the new restored version of The World at War is worth purchasing on Blu-ray - on the one hand is the question of it being pan-and-scanned to fill 16:9 televisions, on the other is the fact that it is one of the most important and brilliantly-made documentary series you'll ever see.

On the question of the reformatting of the original 4:3 picture to widescreen, well the justifications made by the DVD distributor are spurious. If people really want to see the image fit the screen, let them do what they already do themselves and stretch it to fit. It's a horrible distortion of the image, but apparently a lot of people can't even notice the problem and don't particularly care. For those who do care, the cropping the top and bottom of the image by the DVD producers is nothing less than vandalism. Admittedly, before watching the new widescreen presentation, assured that it was carefully handled, I was prepared to make an exception to the Original Aspect Ratio only rule. After all, this is a series that consisting largely of talking heads and documentary footage that was hardly cinematographically composed. Well, I was wrong - the cropping is obvious and blatant, cutting the tops off buildings and heads. Framing isn't carefully done and it can't be. When there are captions on the screen (the original shaky captions, which suggests moreover that it's the original video masters that have been restored rather than the series being remastered from the original source materials), the image tilts down to the lower part of the screen, causing severe cropping at the top. The attempts to re-frame are obvious and obtrusive, the movement noticeable even as it tries to take in the credits at the end of an episode.

On the other hand, does any of this really take away from the quality of the series? The image has certainly been butchered, but that shouldn't prevent anyone from watching one of the most important documentary series ever made. Spread across 26 episodes, on 9 Blu-ray discs, The World at War is an extensive, comprehensive and accessible look at one of the most defining events in the history of the modern world, one that captures the scale of the whole undertaking, looking at the underlying causes, the social and political context, and also the almost inconceivable cost of the war in monetary as well as in human terms. But it also reminds us that there was much more to WWII than the Holocaust and the war in Western Europe, and that the impact was far-reaching, and still has an impact on many aspects of the world we live in today - for better and for worse.

There are certainly gaps and questionable editorial decisions that place curious emphasis on some aspects and cause omission and imbalance in others, but this is a war that can be viewed in many different ways, and it will no doubt be constantly re-evaluated with the passing of time. What makes The World at War so important however are the first-hand eye-witness accounts of many of the key figures still alive around the time the series was made in the early seventies, testimonies not only from important political players, but also from ordinary people from all parts of the world who had to endure something that we can now scarcely imagine. As the years go by, that testimony is invaluable, as is this documentary into the defining years of the 20th century, which should be compulsory viewing for everyone, politicians and world leaders included.

The restored series looks exceptionally good on Blu-ray, at least as well as the quality as the original source materials allow. Those materials however have not been re-sourced - a meticulous reconstruction of such a huge series would obviously be impractical and costly - but the original series masters have clearly been extensively cleaned-up and they look quite good. It's pleasing also to see that the whole series has been given optional English HOH subtitles. The original materials perhaps don't quite have the full High-Definition resolution to merit a Blu-ray release, and consequently I doubt that there's a significant difference in quality between this and the standard DVD edition. It is worth having however for the extra materials and features that are included on the set.

One of those extra features covers the restoration and a great deal of care and attention has gone into making the series look as good as it possibly can, but there is no justification for the cropping of the image. While that decision is regrettable however, it doesn't unduly ruin the series or its purpose. If you're concerned about the messing around with the aspect ratio and the pointless surround remix, go back and look for the original DVD release, but whatever you do, you should own this series.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent documentary, 4 2004
This full set of DVD's provides an excellent,comprehensive, and very informative history of the events leading up to, and during, World War II. Although made during the 1970's and released originally on video, this documentary series probably remains one of the best WWII histories available to date. It features interviews with a number of the actual commanders (allied and axis), other officers, and private individuals who took part in the events. Unsurpassed for quality of content.
Unfortunately, the DVD edition is let down badly by the atrocious menu system. To navigate the menu successfully, it is necessary to watch for the programme titles that appear just as the disks are loading, and then look for these titles on the menu.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most effective piece of television ever, 10 2001
Those people who proudly sit at home proclaiming they own no television, and have no interest in what it has to say, deserve to be converted by this quite incredible program. There will never again be a television program which quite so effectively displays the horrors of war and the effect it has on people.
I would refer any viewer particularly to the holocaust episode, possibly one of the most defining pieces of television ever made. This alone should be compulsory viewing for anyone of school age, and should be viewed by anyone who spends their time belittling the horrors of the Second World War.
Laurence Olivier's narration deserves special note, being one of his greatest performances, as the observer of every battle, our weary storyteller. It is however left to the figures of the time, from great generals to the humble yet brave soldiers, pilots and sailors, to tell their stories, and give a uniquely human perspective on the greatest conflict in our history.
I would recommend this immaculate historical series to anyone, it's issue on DVD providing the opportunity to have this series, if for no other reason, to show to your grandchildren, and remind them of what a terrible period of history this was, and why it should never happen again.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final volume of the highly regarded documentary of WW 2, 6 2000
By A Customer
The World at War is regarded as one of the foremost documentaries made about World War 2. The final volume is made up of the "Special Presentations" which were made after the success of the original series.
As with the other DVD's in the series the original programmes are supplemented with background information and photographs which lead to a fuller understanding of the subject.
The episodes on "Hitler's Germany" and "The Two Deaths of Hitler" are excellent pieces of journalism which cover their respective areas comprehensively.
However, it is the final episodes of this DVD which stand out. The story of "The Final Solution" is told in 2 parts. The first provides detail on the growth of Nazi racial doctrines from the early days & the ideals of the SS through to Poland being annexed and the ghettos. This information is well presented and is crucial for a full understanding of the material contained in the second part. This goes on to describe in detail how a policy of oppression spiralled out of control into state approved mass execution which was only stopped by the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies. These two programmes are still thought by many to be the most complete and thorough record of these events ever presented in a TV documentary and worthy of the attention of anyone who is interested in this period in history.
It does not seem appropriate to wrap this review up using the usual langauge of praise. However if the topic is of interest, then this is an invaluable source of information.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ESSENTIAL SERIES, 4 2006
By 
R. A. Bokhorst (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Will you ever be able to forget those haunting first bars of the theme song and the main title in flames? Or the various people (including the, it looks like, gaunt Jewish girl) immediately after the first credits?

I saw it first in the late seventies/early eighties when it was broadcasted in South Africa, and the unpretentious, though sometimes somewhat biaised views of the real people featured in the series struck a sensive chord within me. I've never been able to forget, and having the opportunity to actually own the whole series filled me with excitement - now able to watch it over and over again, making the whole series a part of my "general knowledge".

If it was possible to give the series six stars for excellence, I would have considered seven stars. As it is, I believe it is the best series on the Second World War ever developed and I cannot recommend it enough to all prospective buyers.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ruined, 27 2012
This review is from: The World At War: The Ultimate Restored Edition 2010 [DVD] (DVD)
Utterly butchered by the hideous widescreen reformatting. What's next - "colorizing"? Get a second hand set of the original DVDs; they are much better value.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 23 2014
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Despite the hype this "ultimate" restoration is not that good. Much of the footage is of too poor quality for high definition to make any appreciable difference. But by far the worst aspect of this restoration is the cropping to make the picture fit wider screen televisions. Much has been made of the careful panning and scanning to capture the important parts of the image, but it really does not work that well. Interviewees are universally missing the tops of their heads and it is painfully obvious in much of the action footage that the picture has been trimmed. Why it should be deemed necessary to reformat the picture, I just do not understand. It is not done with classic films, so why with this television series? Perhaps I am being too fussy. I have a fully equipped 35mm cinema at home where I run film in Academy, Widescreen and CinemaScope formats, so am more aware of the correct ratios than perhaps the average viewer. But I think I will stick to the original DVDs, which preserve the original squarer picture format - the film as it was shot and intended to be seen.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the conflicting reviews!, 13 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In typical Amazon style they have merged all the reviews of this excellent original edition and finest of all WW2 documentary with those of the digitally restored editions. That is why there are so many reviewers giving it only one star and complaining about the 'wide-screen' format etc. This is really sloppy Amazon and your reviews should ALWAYS be for the edition to which they are given. I've noticed this happens in various other films etc where all reviews are lumped together for all versions.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must to all who are interested of WW2, 13 2001
By 
These documents do not contain fancy digital effects like Pearl Harbor -movie. But they do contain first-class documentary, interesting information, original film footage - and most important, live comments from well-known but now deceased people like Karl Dönitz and Albert Speer!
Quality of the picture and sound are superb. I have been sitting in front of my laptop for two days now.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What more can one say?, 5 2004
By 
Aj Viljoen (Kuwait) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I cannot write anything here which hasn't been said before. There are numerous reviews for this box set, and everyone seems to be giving it five stars. And I am doing the same, as we are limited to awarding five stars.
I enjoyed the series back in the seventies, I cherish it now. My wife might not agree, but in my opinion, this must be the best box set on earth. (She will mutter something about Jamie Oliver or Keanu Reeves).
Even though this is arguably one of the best documentaries ever produced, and you've probably seen it more than once, and it is on the pricey side, why should you own it? Because you can never see it too much, and this box set will become one of your prized possessions. And even though it is pricey, it is excellent value for money. One of my best ever purchases from Amazon.
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The World At War: The Ultimate Restored Edition 2010 [DVD]
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