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4.6 out of 5 stars713
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2012
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.

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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on 27 November 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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on 27 December 2005
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.
Depth of research
Full of archive film of the conflict
Interviews with large section of survivors
Repetition in later presentations
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on 4 December 2006
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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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2006
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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VINE VOICEon 8 May 2007
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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on 14 October 2009
As you can see by the average rating and the tens of glowing reviews, The World at War is the definitive account of the most terrible war in human history. Handled with the sober manner it deserves and suitably narrated by Laurence Olivier, the programme covers every aspect of the war and excels at focusing on individual topics (individual battles, Barbarossa, the rise of Japan and the Nazis, life in occupation, the list runs to a total of 26 standard episodes) - although it follows a rough chronological order, the episodes are more interested in explaning the full extent of a topic from start to finish over however many years of subject matter, and this lack of adherence to a strict timeline definitely improves the quality of the series. A crucial aspect of The World at War is the fact it was made so close to the end of WW2, over a four year period between 1969 to 1973, so a 26-year-old participant (the average age of a soldier in WW2) would be in his early sixties and the effect of the war would still be keenly remembered, and felt, across the world. This also enable a massive amount of personal interviews with ranking members of all sides of the war, extraordinarily valuable first-hand opinions and accounts that help enlighten the viewer as to real-world descision-making processes involved in globe-spanning conflict.

Anyone even vaguely interested should own a copy, especially at this price.
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on 6 November 2002
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.
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on 4 January 2007
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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VINE VOICEon 5 March 2004
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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