World War II: Lost Films (WWII in HD) [Blu-ray]
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The only people to see the war like this were the ones who lived it. Until now…
Seventy years in the making. Three thousand hours of colour footage no one knew existed. The first documentary to show World War II from the perspective of both sides in full, immersive HD colour, the HISTORY™ series WWII in HD uses the diaries of soldiers who fought in the war’s biggest battles to create a personal, introspective and detailed look at life on and off the front lines. Though it was illegal for U.S. soldiers to carry diaries, many hid them away in their packs and recorded their experiences in detail.
Now, through the use of these diaries and other source documents, as well as HD colour and on-location shooting around the world, WWII in HD transforms their journey into a tangible piece of history. Culled from rare colour archival footage from an exhaustive worldwide search and converted to HD with meticulous technique, WWII in HD provides a picture of World War II as it has never been seen before.
Episode 1: Darkness Falls
By 1940 Europe has erupted into war, while America does its best to stay out of it. But after Pearl Harbour, America finds itself thrust into a two-front war it is ill-prepared to fight. Darkness Falls Austrian immigrant Jack Werner flees the Nazis and comes to America, where he enlists in the Army so he can join the fight against Hitler. Other young men, like farmhand Archie Sweeney, are pulled in by the draft. Gung-ho combat reporter Richard Tregaskis lands with the Marines on the jungle island of Guadalcanal. College senior Charles Scheffel hastily gets married before deploying to North Africa.
Episode 2: Hard Way Back
America has joined England in the fight against the Axis, but is undecided as to how to proceed. Rookie platoon leader Charles Scheffel suffers his first losses as he battles Rommel’s Afrika Korps in Tunisia. Also in Tunisia, wise-cracking nurse June Wandrey gets her first taste of the war’s horrors. Farmhand Archie Sweeney is shot dead while on patrol. Meanwhile Sergeant Jack Werner experiences his first taste of active combat against the Japanese in a bitter battle to retake the Aleutian Islands.
Episode 3: Bloody Resolve
By late 1943 America’s industrial might is starting to gear up. But when combat journalist Robert Sherrod lands on Tarawa, the machines the Marines were counting on fail them, turning Tarawa into one of the bloodiest Pacific battles yet waged. Marine Nolen Marbrey joins MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign in the South Pacific, but his patrol is lost behind enemy lines on New Britain. Meanwhile reporter Richard Tregaskis leaves the Pacific for the front lines of Italy’s bitter slugfest, where he is hit by enemy mortar.
Episode 4 - Battle Stations
As 1944 opens, the Allies are feverishly planning for the invasion of France. Starry-eyed pilot Bert Stiles joins the decimated 8th Air Force as they try to clear the skies over Normandy. In the Pacific, battle-hungry Jack Werner is frustrated during the Americans’ attempts to seize the valuable airfields of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Charles Scheffel is in England, preparing for the D-Day invasion. Finally, D-Day arrives.
Episode 5: Day of Days
America is on the offensive, but hopes for a speedy victory are premature. Lt. Charles Scheffel is hit on his way into the Normandy beaches and must recover in an English hospital. In the Pacific, reporter Robert Sherrod accompanies the massive invasion of the heavily defended island of Saipan, where Japanese civilians become part of the war’s tragic equation. Naïve Navy enlistee J
At first glance, the very concept of WWII in HD seems like an oxymoron. After all, isn't the footage from back then nothing more than grainy black-and-white newsreel? And really, how much definition can be added to film that was shot more than 60 years ago? The answers: no, and quite a lot, actually. The quality of much of what is seen in the course of these 10 episodes (each around 45 minutes long) is surprisingly good. Add to that the fact that most of it is in colour (not colourised, but originally recorded in that medium, some at the behest of the United States government), and the result is nothing short of astonishing. It's not easy viewing; there are sequences that are shockingly graphic (vivid examples include the carnage on view after major battles and the shots of Japanese civilians on the Pacific island of Saipan hurling themselves off cliffs to avoid capture by American troops). But all of it has been put to good use in what is undoubtedly one of the most compelling accounts of World War II ever produced.
Other documentaries have chronicled the same events seen here, from the earliest days of the war (when Hitler was overrunning Europe and the ill-prepared Americans were still years away from becoming involved), through Pearl Harbour, the major confrontations with the Japanese in the Pacific theatre (like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the incomparably bloody Iwo Jima) and with the Germans in Europe and North Africa (the invasion of Tunisia, D-day, the Battle of the Bulge), and straight on to victory in Europe and finally the Japanese surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But what separates WWII in HD is the filmmakers' decision to view these events through the experiences of a dozen individuals who were actually there, including a couple of war correspondents (one of whom, Richard Tregaskis, was the author of the seminal Guadalcanal Diary); an Austrian immigrant who escaped the Nazis and almost immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army; a nurse with General George Patton's Third Army; an African-American pilot who was one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen; a Japanese-American medic who fought heroically while his family was held in an internment camp; and others from the rank and file. All of them are voiced by such actors as Rob Lowe, Amy Smart, Steve Zahn, Josh Lucas, and LL Cool J; and with Gary Sinise providing voice-over narration, the whole piece comes off as a dramatic film as much as a straight documentary (an effect also enhanced by some brilliantly creative juxtapositions of words, images, and music). Not all of these men and women made it through the war (those still alive also appear in on-camera interviews), but none could ever forget the horrors they witnessed, and while those of us who did not serve will never really comprehend the sacrifices they made, this remarkable programme may be as close as we can get. --Sam Graham
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Combined with a sober and well scripted commentary read by Gary Sinise, and voiced by contemporary actors, interspersed with interviews with those still alive, makes this something quite unique, a moving and educational experience. Recommended.
The opportunity that has been missed with much of this archive footage is the lack of digital restoration. With only a few exceptions, there has generally been no obvious attempt to stabilise, or clean up the dust and scratches on the footage they used (and I don't include 'colorisation' which here is mostly worse than the black and white footage). This is more true of the early days of the war - the first 2-3 episodes. The picture quality situation (probably due to the volume of colour archival footage increasing as we progress chronologically through the war) does appear to improve with later programmes in the series.
I've seen comparisons on the US site to 'the World at War'. With the greatest respect, such a comparison is not sensible to make. The World at War handles the detailed story and the strategy of the war's progress for all countries involved requiring 26 52 minute episodes- this series covers in 10 episodes of 49minutes each. This series follows a bunch of US individuals who actually fought in the war, and it works quite well from that limited kind-of US-national 'foxhole-level' viewpoint. The modern footage of the US military folks today is all hi-def which contrasts with and at times shows up the archival footage. Their direct narration, segued with actors when showing archival footage, works extremely well. The cross-section of US personnel covered is reasonably good. Where World at War wins is in having direct interviews with the decision makers on all sides. You'll not get that here, but then 'tempus fugit' and not many are around today to be interviewed.
This series may (OK will!) upset the non-US nationalists amongst you - I draw attention to the North African campaign where the graphics clearly show the international element, but the British and Commonwealth military's actions are glossed over. The focus on the soldiers means that for the bigger picture stuff, say, the power-play between Montgomery and Patton subsequent to the North Africa campaign, or for instance the German-Russian campaign, you need to look elsewhere.
So in summary buy this if you can imagine the title should actually say something like 'The USA in WWII in HD'. It makes a worthwhile addition to existing content and is in my opinion the best recent US documentary series on the US involvement in the Second World War.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews