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The First World War - The Complete Series [DVD]

4.5 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Marcus Kiggell, Simon Rockell, Corinna Stümmer, Emma Wallace, Ben Steele
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Arrow Films
  • DVD Release Date: 1 July 2013
  • Run Time: 500 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BQY1GYS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,957 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

The First World War is the definitive documentary series about the global conflict which shaped the 20th century. Based on the book by Hew Strachan and narrated by Jonathan Lewis, the series covers all aspects of the war. The popular view of the First World War is dominated by cliché. Young British soldiers, many of them budding poets, were led to early and ghastly deaths in muddy wastes by incompetent generals for reasons that were seemingly futile. And although clichés are not necessarily lies, they are at best a selective view of the truth. This is a stunning account of the hostilities which offers new interpretations of and insights into one of the defining events of the twentieth century. And, for the first time, it offers a truly global vision of a conflict which is often misconceived as a prolonged skirmish on the Western Front. Accessible, compelling and utterly convincing, this is modern history revealed at its finest.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 8 Mar. 2004
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This is probably the best documentary on the subject since the 1960's series 'The Great War'. It attempts to explain and highlight the tactics and strategy's employed in the conflict and is both revisionist and traditional in its interpretation of events. Its clever use of letters and diaries of the time helps to produce a sense of the time for the viewer. Although unseen footage of the period is now hard to come by this series does manage to include some previously unseen pictures.
The series will be useful to anyone interested in British and/or military history. A very good aid for the pupil at school learning about the Great War just as for the graduate.
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I have now seen these DVDs twice and they have been send twice also on Danish Televisions DR2 programme. I think that they are very good and worthwile buying.

They give a great introduction to the First World War and with only ten episodes you can't expect more. Another reader here compares it to BBCs Great War of the 1960s, and of course that series was more detailed because it was a seventeen and half hours epic!

The big advantage of the present series is that it has a modern touch showing the places as of today and very good maps, which are normally lacking in DVDs on the First and Second World Wars.

Strachans also brings home that the First World War was a true world war by describing and analysing the events outside of the Europe and the Western Front. I agree although with the other reviewers that he should have put a little more emphasis on the main events on the main theatres of war than he did.

But the only thing I really wonder about is when the two other volumes are coming in his three part book series on OUP. The account is very good although the maps are awful. They only show you the places, and not the fronts or the armies. That is hopefully gonna change in the upcoming volumes.
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The 1960's BBC series, "The Great War" is more definitive than this latest production. Examples where there is lack of completeness are the Verdun and Somme campaigns which are compressed into one episode. The Eastern Front which was cataclysmic from a Russian perspective is also sparsely covered. This is undoubtedly an unbalanced production in terms of the importance of the action versus the time spent on the aspect covered. If one requires a definitive documentary on this war, rather purchase the BBC version but this production being more than 40 years old, although excellent, is rather dated in style.

In contrast in this DVD little known actions are covered in a disproportional amount of detail. No other video covers aspects such as the campaign in the ex-German colonies such as German East Africa [now Tanzania] & German South West Africa [now known as Namibia]. The German attempts to incite the Islamic world into anti British & Russian actions are also covered quite comprehensively.

Even though the aforementioned aspects are treated at the expense of more important parts of the war, it does add a new dimension to a war which otherwise comprised an unremitting series of artillery bombardments, machine guns scything down lines of soldiers "going over the top" & battles which are similar to one another & which in the facetious words of Rowan Atkinson a la Black Adder merely resulted in General Haig's drink's table moving one yard nearer to Berlin.

The style is a balance between three presentation styles. The backbone are videos many of them new to this reviewer. These are interwoven with extracts of diaries from eye witnesses. This provides a sense of immediacy.
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I saw ep 1 minus the first 10 minutes on telly and was impressed by the original footage in B&W and colour, projected at the correct number of frames per second, so I bought the DVDs, but unfortunately there's much to dislike.

Firstly this is a 500-minute 3 disc set, whereas the original was a 513-minute 4-disc set (currently very expensive). OK, that's probably unimportant, so I'll pass it by. I'm afraid all I know of WWI comes from reading AJP Taylor 30 years ago and Roy Jenkins's Churchill the year before last, so I'm very hazy. Oh yes, Goodbye to All That is a good read. These discs are for the most part not really history - much of it is just glib anecdote about, for example, Churchill, without any analysis at all of his career (which we need now more than ever). Pretty much the only two people alive who think he wasn't responsible for Gallipoli are Boris Johnson and Nicholas Soames, so merely to quote ANZACs who blamed their officers is pretty poor stuff (yes, anecdote is Strachan's avowed intention, I gather, but there's not room here to get into a debate about the historiographical value of that - Strachan seems to imagine his approach is neutral, but it isn't, as the method requires a lot of selectivity to begin with and involves witnesses who weren't privy to any information). No comment on convoys, an important subject, not that I can remember Churchill's thoughts about them. Perhaps Strachan's book is more considered, but I am absolutely not tempted to buy it on the strength of this show.

In episodes 6 and 9 the visuals are very juddery and unpleasant to watch, not only in the original footage, but also in the modern footage and rostrum work.
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