Jeremy Clarkson side steps his usual motoring journalism with this superb little collection of tales of the bravery and courage by British and Commonwealth servicemen during the Second World War.
Laced with his own brand of dry humour, Clarkson creates a lively account of the grim realities of war, yet always respectful to those who laid down their lives or who miraculously survived against the odds. Stories of extreme danger and suicidal heroism make for a thoroughly absorbing and fascinating documentary.
The first of two one hour presentations examines the Victoria Cross medal "For Valour". How it came to be, how and where it is made, what it takes to earn one. Clarkson gives several accounts of individuals who have been awarded the VC but focuses on "Operation Market Garden". We find out why he has a personal interest at the end of the documentary.
The second presentation describes the formation of Churchills Commando elite. The forerunners to today's special forces. "Operation Chariot" provides the backdrop for what is described as the most daring raid of all.
A must see for military history enthusiasts and Jeremy Clarkson fans alike.
I had only heard that Jeremy had done documentaries and couldn't find them on the US Amazon website, so I came here. Once I realised that I could order from the UK site, anyway, I excitedly bought this and one of James May's DVD's. It took one week to ship from the UK to the US (and not the three weeks that was estimated), so that was lovely.
It seems that the DVD decided that en route to the US, it no longer wanted to be attached to the case. The case was a prison and it wanted freedom! So, upon arrival, it was sliding around the inside. This was alarming since I do my best to keep my CD's and DVD's in pristine condition. It seems to have sustained only superficial scratches, thankfully, and played the entire way through without mishap.
I absolutely loved both documentaries. I'm interested in history, but not a history buff, so this was perfect. And if I am to be completely honest, I wouldn't have bought it at all had Jeremy not done it.
The Victoria Cross one had me eating up every word. My ears pricked up when he mentioned the VC winner he was going to focus on, Robert Cain. I was dancing in my seat when he said that Major Cain was Manx. I knew for certain that he must have been his wife Francie's dad. Jeremy didn't reveal until the end that this was true. It was a wonderful story. It was well told, well informed, and I really enjoyed that there were interviews with those who knew him.
The Greatest Raid, Ever, was the second documentary, which was equally fantastic, in all senses of the word. The special effects (for which there is a "making of" special) are magnificent. Jeremy did a lovely job outlining all the reasons this was one of the most daft plans ever thought of and why completing it was a suicide mission. I was very pleased that he included something that of the German officers told one of the British ones, that one particular commando should get a VC for his bravery and sheer stubbornness. That was just an amazing insight.
Definitely consider purchasing this even if you aren't a fan of Clarkson and you like history. If you are a fan, like me, absolutely buy it. You won't be disappointed.
I think that after he retires from Top Gear, someday, he needs to do more documentaries. If they showed these in school, I guarantee more kids would get interested.
This must be the strangest start to a review for a while. A mate of mine hates Clarkson with a passion. However, even he said that his documentary on the VC was excellent, and that he soon got engrossed in the narative, and forgot who it was who was speaking. As the BBC (and the various TV digital channels) seemed to not want to show this again, I eventually found it on You Tube, where it was broken into several parts, which together with a poor download speed spoilt my enjoyment of it as I had to wait for bufferring etc when I just wanted to move on to the next bit of the story. There is a twist at the end, which is given away in some of the other reviews, but I already knew it in advance and it certainly doesnt spoil the programme. I knew nothing of the raid on St Nazaire, and again this is excellently presented. As a story, its pure Boys Own stuff, and I`m sure with a little tweaking, Hollywood could make it into a big film a la Pearl Harbour / Titanic, as it involves newly married wives doomed to becoming widows just weeks after their big day. The bravery of the soldiers defies belief, and I wondered whether today you would get people agreeing to go on a suicidal mission like this or claiming that it is against their human rights etc. I think these guys deserve al the medals that they got.
I`m hoping the 'extras' include the 'making of' documentary, as this too was interesting.Its not listed in the advert, and my local branch of HMV not only didnt have a copy for me to look at, but hadnt heard of it.
If you are anticipating Clarkson shouting "power" and understeering a tank or battleship around a circuit chased by the others from Top Gear, be prepared for a dissappointment. However, if you are looking for some excellent War Stories really well told, and have a couple of hours to spend, then this is an excellent addition to anyone`s collection.
For those who ask how I can review a DVD without having seen it, I have seen both programmes already, and its a rarity that I buy a TV programme having seen it already, I doubt that the picture quality etc will be any worse than that broadcast, and I notice that its not advertised as being available on Blu Ray with High Definition, but for the pedants, this is a 5 inch diameter silvery disc that I have really wanted to add to my collection.
Love him or hate him, Jeremy Clarkson is a very effective photo-journalist. Story one is about the Victoria Cross, and while he concentrates on one particual recipient, to whom he had personal connection, he covers its inception, production, and tries to analyse what it takes to win one. In my opinion this is the best thing J.C. has ever done. Story two is about the Commando raid on the St. Naziarre dry dock. Told in the same style as story one, it is very good, but doesn't have the passion of story one. The d.v.d.is worth it's cost for story one alone, look upon story two as a bonus.
I have never been a fan of Jeremy Clarkson with his puerile Top Gear programme. But here he showed that when he turns his attention to serious topics he can be quite accomplished. Here we have two WW2 stories, originally featured on TV, which are about Operation Market Garden (the attempt to cross the The Rhine at Arnhem and Operation Chariot (the raid on St Nazaire) and their associated VCs. Both documentaries were very well done, but equally interesting was a short documentary covering how they made the St Nazaire film. Clarkson's commentary was surprisingly good and this DVD is well worth viewing.
I'm a person who likes war documentaries, no matter who the narrator is but Clarkson's style was entertaining and informative at the same time. It strikes me as the sort of style that might encourage other people who might not be so interested in war documentaries to actually pay attention and learn about the brave men and women who gave their lives so we might have freedom.
Tried to get this for years, even wrote to the BBC but got no joy - maybe because I had the wrong title (I thought it was called Victoria Cross Stories) - so when I stumbled across it on Amazon I was thrilled. A very moving programme, narrated phenomenally well by Clarkson. Maybe this should be compulsory viewing in schools prior to Remembrance Day............ just a thought.