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Apocalypse [DVD]
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on 21 February 2017
Good viewing.
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on 12 May 2017
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on 19 August 2013
I love history and documentaries, especially documentaries about WWII. I have seen many rubbish and boring documentaries, presenting footage that has been shown over and over again before or that were filled with too many interviews and reenacted scenes. This one is pretty different. The BluRay features 2 discs with all 6 episodes of the Channel 5 series. The footage is very interesting and I have never seen them before. Despite I dislike colorization of B/W material they did it very well, bringing lot's of additional atmosphere. Very positive, no boring interviews and no reenacted szenes in between the amazing footage. Why just 4 stars? The narrator presents the events from a 'very French perspective' (well, it is a French production). Sometimes it lacks some historical correctness, but that is no a big problem to me. I do not know what 'Apocalypse' products Amazon includes into these feedbacks apart from the DVD and the BluRay versions. I just sold the 'Apocalypse The Second World War' BluRay and bought the French BluRay Box Set 'Apocalypse Le Coffret' from Amazon UK featuring the 'Apocalypse Hitler' BluRay with a documentary about Hitler (2 more episodes of the Channel 5 Apocalypse series, this time concentrating on Hitler, the person) for just 9£. Enjoy it!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 March 2017
Holocaust-denying and Nazi-loving people should be locked in a cell and forced to watch this several times then be required to answer factual questions based on its good journalism before being released. Or preferably just watch a copy in the freedom of their own living room and then stop being silly. Harrowing but vital film. Steve Riches, Northampton, UK.
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on 2 November 2010
Although not a natural history buff I ended up watching 'Apocalypse' on Saturday night and was pleasantly surprised. Having basic knowledge of both World Wars, gauged from subjects at school, I found this documentary brought to life historic events that I had previously took little interest in.

The footage used is truly astounding and really puts into perspective the unfathomably crisis that the world faced due to one man and his regime. What must be commended is that this series is far from Anglo-centric, taking into account the sheer immensity the war had on the world as a whole, an angle that is so often overlooked in many teachings.

I would recommend this series to anyone who has an active interest in history or anyone who simply wants to learn more about a subject that is often touched upon at school but never explained in such details and depth as it is here.

Unique, restored, colourised - Apocalypse is definitely one to watch. Bring on the next episode!
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on 30 November 2010
A very good series, which attempts to cover the same ground as 'The World At War', but in only 6 episodes! This is a tall order indeed, but this fast-paced series manages to do this admirably well, and I have learnt a lot of interesting new facts about WW2. The dramatic visuals are the strong point of the series, many of which I have not seen elsewhere.
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on 4 June 2015
There are tens of thousands of WW2 documentaries out there. However, the majority of them focus on one particular aspect of this immense conflict, whether it is a particular battle like Stalingrad or Pearl Harbor, a campaign or front like North Africa, a commander or general like Rommel, a military aspect like tanks, aircraft, weaponry or "Wunderwaffen", or the Holocaust in general. When you want to get an overview of the entire conflict in a few hours, and in color to boot, then the list of documentaries grows thin.

This French production, only a few years old, has managed to summarize the most devastating conflict (by count of casualties) of human history within the span of a few hours, without leaving out any important aspects, and in full color to boot. The latter in particular transforms the footage from "boring history" to almost cinematic proportions. Instead of getting the feeling of watching old, grainy war footage from the past, you feel like you've boarded a time machine and been dropped off in the 1940s and are part of the war itself. Blue skies, blue seas, green grass and forests; grey battleships, bombers, fighter planes, tanks, artillery and infantry letting the colourful countryside erupt in smoke and fire. Suddenly, it all feels very real. Like it could happen today. That's why recolored footage is so important to me. It keeps the modern audience attentive and "in the middle of it" throughout the entire documentary.

The series is broken down into six episodes, each approximately 45 minutes long, so the viewer can get to watch it piecemeal without having to sit through the whole thing or not knowing when to stop. My only criticism is that instead of six episodes, there should have been seven, with the 7th episode being the very first, one dedicated to a brief summary of the First World War, the subsequent crash of the German economy and following rise of Hitler to power. It would have made everything perfect, because at its current state the documentary suffers from a slightly rugged start.

Nevertheless, very recommendable.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 November 2010
Apocalypse is good in parts; *very* good in its visual presentation, less wonderful in its approach to detailed, unbiased re-telling of major historical events.
The good bits first: the footage is incredible and fascinating to watch. It has been carefully and subtley 'colourised' with an attention to detail that is utterly impressive. It really does make a difference, seeing even familiar film shots in an entirely new perspective. The use of colour, even in the very gentle shades which have been utilised here, make the scenes of invasion, retreat, refugees, bombing and so on extremely personal. It takes 'history' from 'long ago' and transforms it into something which could happen to any of us at any time. The people become real. And the few scenes which are left in their original black-and-white then stand out in stark contrast, miserable mono being used to best effect to illustrate the horrors of the ghettos and camps.
This series also contains an occasional gem, like the information that Von Paulus, commander of the defeated armies at Stalingrad, cooperated with the Soviets after his surrender and eventually took up residence in East Germany. The footage of beaten German troops being shipped to Canada and the USA was remarkable, too.

On the downside, the commentary is quite lightweight and at times very subjective. This is hardly an in-depth examination of the events of WW2, although an occasional snippet of unusual information does creep in (like those above, or the fact that German pilots who were captured by the French were not shipped overseas before the fall of France, which meant they could return to their planes to attack Britain).
But too many of the main characters are presented as two-dimensional sketches. Hitler is an insane, unstoppable war criminal; Churchill is the British bulldog, and so on. There's precious little detail about how individual battles were won or lost, and far too much use of cliche. Really, no one should even need to use the phrase 'men, women and children'... Also, the narrator struggles with the most basic German and Russian pronunciation. The Russian name 'Georgi' somehow became an English 'Georgie' and some place names are utterly mangled. You get the impression of someone reading from a script without a proper idea of the relevence of the information.
So each 45 minute programme is filled with both wonders and irritants. The flow of the narrative is very pacy, much more to modern tastes than the all-time classic of WW2 histories, The World At War: The Ultimate Restored Edition 2010 [DVD]. But The World At War is a far more accomplished series, which uses interviews and examination to far better explain the appalling events of the time.
So Apocalypse is recommended as one to watch -- but mainly to enjoy the film. Get your facts and understandings from other sources!
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on 7 January 2013
This French production purports to encapsulate World War II in a set of three discs of 280 minutes duration in total but there is a heavy emphasis on the European and Russian theatres of World War II, and in particular, the French role in the defeat of Nazi Germany. The crucial battles in the North African Campaign and the entirely separate and massive Pacific War receive relatively brief coverage despite the fact that German victory in North Africa would have given them control of the Suez Canal and the vital Middle East oilfields, and Japanese victory in the Pacific in 1942 would have threatened Hawaii and Australia and seriously transformed the strategic situation in Europe and Russia. If the United States Navy had been defeated at Midway, local political imperatives would have forced President Roosevelt to defend Hawaii against planned Japanese occupation. This situation would almost certainly have delayed D-Day by at least a year, and possibly seen a Russian army reach the English Channel.

No mention is made of the fact that the Chinese were holding down at least thirty Japanese divisions throughout the Pacific War. The Chinese earned their place at the signing of the Japanese surrender. The Americans and Australians did all of the heavy lifting in the Pacific War, and earned their places at the Japanese surrender but I fail to understand why the French were at the signing in Tokyo Bay when they collaborated with the Japanese in Indo-China and contributed no significant military support to the defeat of Japan.

Being a French production, we should not be surprised that far more time is spent on the Battle for France than on the Battle of Britain or the Battle of the Atlantic despite the fact that the two latter battles were arguably among the five most important battles of World War II. In coverage of the North African Campaign, no mention is made of the lengthy and vital Allied defence of the port of Tobruk over twelve months which was a constant thorn in Rommel's side and forced him to land his reinforcements and supplies at Tripoli, including fresh supplies of tanks, and move them across 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) of exposed desert when his front line neared the border with Egypt. While Tobruk remained in Allied hands, Rommel's supply lines were constantly stretched to breaking point every time he approached the border with Egypt. In the Pacific War, the Battle of the Coral Sea (May, 1942) is completely ignored despite it being Japan's first strategic defeat and the fact that it laid the foundation for the massive defeat of the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway (June, 1942). The Japanese defeats in the lengthy and bloody Papuan and Guadalcanal Campaigns (both early 1943) forced Japan on the defensive for the rest of the Pacific War but neither campaign rates a significant mention in this French production.

My advice to those interested in balanced coverage of World War II is to choose the magnificent The World At War - Complete TV Series (11 Disc Box Set) [DVD], and for much better coverage of the Pacific War look elsewhere.

I have watched many hundreds of hours of archived World War II film, and feel that the researchers have done a remarkable job in unearthing film that I have never seen before. Much of the archive war action footage of the European and Russian theatres appears to have come from WW II German and Russian military and propaganda sources, Wehrmacht soldiers' personal filming, and other private sources that include filming of intensely personal scenes of civilian suffering.

Considerable effort has gone into restoring the archive film covering the European and Russian theatres by removing scratches and blotches, and the rendition in colour is quite extraordinary. The production has been colorised in such a way that the injected colour appears perfectly natural and never garish. The only exception to colourising is in the scenes depicting Nazi and Japanese brutality towards their victims. These scenes are depicted in the original stark black and white.

Less care has gone into coverage of the Pacific war and restoration of archive film. The coverage of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in this film has errors, such as promoting air attack leader Mitsuo Fuchida from commander to captain and placing him on the carrier Zuikaku instead of the flagship Akagi. The archive film of the Pacific War is mostly very poor quality by comparison with archive footage from Europe and Russia which is mostly very good. This can probably be explained by the heavy emphasis on the European and Russian theatres. Of Hirohito as Japan's war leader in the Pacific War, this production makes the absurd claim with regard to Emperor Hirohito "Did the emperor know (about the atrocities committed in China)... he reigns but does not govern". The researchers for this French production have not done their Pacific War homework adequately. Hirohito was not a token leader of his military but a "hands-on" commander in chief who approved every major Japanese military action, including all of Japan's military aggression. His aides-de-camp were active on every front.

The French producers make the naive assertion: "Along with imperialism, the underlying cause of World War II is racism". The underlying cause of World War II was not racism but greed for the territory and resources of other countries. Nazi and Japanese aggression was fired by extreme militarism in both Germany and Japan. Racism was employed by both the Nazis and Japanese to justify their military aggression to their own people. The Nazis despised Jews and murdered six million of them. The Japanese despised the Chinese and murdered between five and ten million civilians and prisoners of war by horrifying methods including burying them alive and burning them alive in mass graves.
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on 8 June 2011
Might seem to be a bit stingey only giving this four stars but it's simply because I have to compare it with The World At War, the seminal television treatment of one of the worst episodes in human history. Apocalypse really is an excellent documentary series but it's only a few episodes and to deal with a World War stretching (for Britain) from 1939 until 1945 and which was conducted across several fronts world-wide, over several years by many nations is bound to mean that some campaigns which loom large in a nation's psyche, such as the Battle of Britain and D-Day are dealt with only briefly. Nevertheless, as a kind-of 'potted' history of the main events of the war which resulted in the most relevant changes in the balance of power, this is excellent and informative viewing and I recommend it to you.

If this whets your appetite then go one step further and get hold of the World At War. It has the privilege of being delivered over what amounts to many hours of viewing and to an extent, this is what Apocalypse has to recommend it, it does it well with brevity.
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