This documentary series is based on the results of thousands of hours of research, tracking down rare colour film from just about every theatre of the Second World War, and then painstaking restoring them to pristine condition. The results are visually very impressive, but despite the impressive colour film, what makes this series stand out is its clever framework. Other similar series have ended up feeling like video slide-shows, so impressed with their colour film that they don't bother with a good structure. That isn't the case here, where we follow the experiences of twelve individuals, each speaking in their own words, taken from letters and diaries of the period. Some of the twelve are still alive, and appear in person from time to time, before the voice actors resume the narration. This makes the entire series feel much more involving, and lifts it to a higher level than if the focus had simply been on the technical achievement.
This is very much the American version of the war, partly because it was produced for an American TV channel, but also because much of the colour film produced during the war was filmed for the US Government, giving the film makers a much better chance of finding the films they required. The twelve people whose stories are told come from a wide range of backgrounds, and fought on every front where American troops could be found. They include Jack Werner, a Jewish émigré from Vienna, who ended up fighting in the Pacific, but whose early memories give us the best view of the pre-war period, and Jimmie Kanaya, the son of Japanese immigrants, as well as journalists, nurses and a good selection of serving soldiers, sailors and airmen.
With ten 45 minute episodes and some DVD specials this is a very impressive boxed set, and provides one of the most vivid views of the Second World War.
See the trailer
Hard Way Back
Day of Days
Point of No Return
Glory and Guts
Edge of the Abyss
Edition: Blu-ray (also available on DVD)
Publisher: History Channel