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4.5 out of 5 stars
122
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 27 April 2014
This is one of the best First World War documentaries available right now, but coming in a worthy second to the legendary BBC's 'The Great War' series from the 1960s. Nothing will ever equal that in my view. Apart from these two productions the others aren't worth bothering with from what I've seen. I want facts, figures, personal experiences ... I don't want the whole production to be underlined by an anti-war message. The casualty figures alone on all sides are quite sufficient to remind the viewer that war is hell, and should be avoided at all costs because people can get hurt. War isn't Hollywood, and we should not judge the inexplicable bravery of so many soldiers by today's standards. To undermine such courage with a plea for pacifism is almost to ridicule it. I see bravery and comradeship in the face of insuperable odds as some of the highest of human virtues. Personally, as long as warfare is confined to the TV screen, and I don't have to be involved in it, then it suits me just fine, thanks. However, a fine TV documentary series of this nature reminds me, as it should remind everybody that if it wasn't for the noble sacrifices of previous generations, we probably wouldn't have any carefully censored TV programmes to review without big brother breathing down our necks anyway. Was old Horace right when he wrote, 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.'? It would be nice to think it was worth it. I guess I'm just an old romantic at heart.
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on 18 August 2017
The approach of this documentary is to build it out of observations and quotes from a wide variety of generally obscure individuals - an interesting take, but vulnerable to cherry-picking and more than a little misleading in many places. Not a single recognised authority is interviewed, the result being more a history of personal human suffering than military or political accuracy - and I am sure there is more footage of corpses here than in necrophiliac's film festival.

Nonetheless, it has some interesting and useful vignettes which are usually ignored by mainstream productions, but as already averred, some episodes are so painfully simplistic that they are actually mischievously misleading eg. the discussion of the factions/factors that precipitated the outbreak of the war completely exonerates all - except the Central Powers of course. France in particular is portrayed as utterly innocent of any complicity in the outbreak, and generally presented as virtue personified and the victim of 'Hun militarism' - the fact that it had invaded German territory 31 times in the previous two centuries is conveniently omitted.

Perhaps more unfortunately (because the events occurred more than a century ago), most episodes have a strange barely concealed Germanophobic bias, (but produced and directed by Marcus Kiggell and Corinna Sturmer et al??) some so blatant as to suggest and imply that the 'usual' barbarities of war ( ie. the brutalities, savagery, looting and general excesses etc - they forgot raping for some reason?) were the exclusive proclivity of the 'bestial Hun' - no other combatants stooping that low.

Similarly, every idiotic utterance of the Kaiser is faithfully reproduced, but his English cousin's equally inane comments are tactfully omitted (not that royalty has ever been known for profundity)

Thus overall, although sprinkled with a few different and interesting insights and of course rare restored footage (corpses aside), its simplistic and slyly slanted treatment qualifies it as being 'definitive' only in a propaganda sense.
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on 5 May 2014
I already saw most of the series on TV so I knew what I was getting. The packaging into 3 DVDs is fine and the DVD menu etc works well. The episodes are exactly as was on TV. If you haven't seen it on TV then I would highly recommend it. It is more concise than the World At War series (WW2) but I think it is better for that. It doesn't lack film and photo footage despite it being from 100 years ago. The narration is clear and the logical flow of the series excellent.
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on 29 January 2017
A must for every one, we should know more about the horror our forefathers went through
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on 21 September 2012
This was an extremely watchable series, which explained the First World War, its causes and effects, better than I've ever heard it. Much of its strength was that it didn't concentrate only on strategy and what the upper echelons were doing, but looked at how events impacted the men in the trenches. Lots of battlefield and trench film demonstrates conditions, as well as first hand accounts (mostly letters) from those involved. Should be compulsory school viewing.
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on 10 September 2015
Excellent series missed most on TV when it was aired so great I could have my own copy to watch as I pleased....
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on 25 August 2015
Very informative dvd. Lots of information to take in. Be prepared to sit and concentrate as it is quite heavy going at times. Really enjoyed expanding my knowledge
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on 30 December 2013
An unusual but very intelligent look at the First World War, taking in politics and geography. The programmes are done by 'theme' rather than the usual simple chronological format, and it was all the better for it. Highly recommended.
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on 30 March 2015
Got it for a foreigner who cannot figure out how, or why, the First World War got started.
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on 6 August 2017
Great service, would recommend.
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