World at War TV series

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Kyt, Oct 31, 2006.

  1. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    In Britain the seminal* World at War series has been repeated quite a few times on the digital channel, UKTV History. Even though it is still seen as a brilliant and ground-breaking history, it was very much a product of its time, constrained by contemporaneous research, the political climate and people’s sensibilities.

    Watching it again recently, I was struck by many things that disagree with current research. And views. Just two of the things that I found interesting were:

    1) Ambrose was interviewed in the final episode (I think it was called “Who Won World War 2?”), and he seemed to show a rather poorly-disguised disdain for the British war effort (maybe I’m being over sensitive)

    2) In the episode on the Nuremberg Trial, it was claimed that the idea of the trial was initially dismissed by STALIN, who wanted the defendants merely executed. However, it is now accepted that it was in fact CHURCHILL, who wanted them “lined up against a wall and shot”, and it was Stalin who pushed for the trial (partly as Stalin had great experience of the effectiveness of show trials). It seems to highlight Cold War sensibilities.

    Anyway, for those of you who have seen the series, have there been moments when you’ve thought “uuummm, no actually……”?

    * why am I always uneasy about using this word?!!
  2. Scribe

    Scribe Junior Member

    I'm not sure if it was Ambrose but I remember an American historian who summed up the winners and losers in WW2. His point, as I remember, was that compared to other nations, including the Axis powers, that Britain was a 'loser' in real terms. His rationale was, that compared to the US, Britain had been left bankrupt and lost its Empire and it was decades before the country recovered. He made the point that Britain's only real gain had been the moral high ground and satisfaction in knowing it had done the right thing and not capitulated to the Nazis at the start of the war.
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    As long as it's approached as 'a product of it's time' (like any other historical work) The World at War stands as a sublime piece of television made by exactly the right people at exactly the right time (1973???).
    The Interviewees are incredible and caught long enough after the war for their personal take on it to have developed fully and before death claimed many of them. I'm just not entirely comfortable critiquing it, let it stand as a remarkable document that we're lucky to have.
    TTH likes this.
  4. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    I wasn't criticizing the series, and I agree that it's a great documentary. However, as a product of its times, is it not valid to examine it's content, as we would with books written at that time? And as it is being repeated on Tv at the moment, how is some of the content valid today to those who may not know much about the war?
  5. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    Just wanted to point out a possible bargain, there was some chat about this outstanding series at the other place so I thought I'd have a butchers and see what the best available deal was. I've now bought a copy for the bargain price of £39.98. The full price is £99.99, so if any UK based member would like to take the opportunity to pick this up for a snip here's your chance.
  6. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    I did have a problem with a couple of scratched discs though, so I requested a replacement, which turned up before I'd posted the original. A little bit of jiggling and between the two box sets I had one immaculate copy.
  7. Fusilier

    Fusilier Junior Member

    Just bought the set from Amazon, it's the first time seeing it from it was aired in the 70's.
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I remember seeing the original series and thought it was excellent. Thanks for the tip and I will be hopefully obtaining a set.

  9. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    I didn't think that the physical quality of the disks was good on my copy and as far as I can see it doesn't have subtitles, which is rather disappointing.
  10. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    I've had similar problems Mark.
  11. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    I've become aware of the importance of subtitles since I've been teaching a student who is profoundly deaf. Although he has quite a sophisticated radio hearing aid with transmitter it doesn't seem to pick up video/DVD soundtrack from our speakers very well. Subtitles are therefore a great boon and I tend to assume that DVDs will have them, even if some of the transliterations are a bit odd. My favourite is Richard Todd in 'The Longest Day' exhorting his men to 'Up the action, chaps!' Obviously the subtitle writer was baffled by 'Up the Ox and Bucks!'
  12. Django

    Django Treadhead

    It was an excellent series with a very haunting theme song and great narration.
    I remember when it was on t.v. way back and I would never miss an episode!
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Working my way through the box set now, no complaints on production quality here, and I can live without subtitles.
    Even though I may disagree with a few of it's overall historical assessments It's still staggering just how good it is. This list of interviewees pretty much says it all for me:
    The World at War - Jeremy Isaacs showed exquisite timing and sense in making it when he did, with so many leading protagonists still around, and then to contrast the likes of Galland & Clark with, for instance, a group of middle-aged Sherwood Foresters sitting around in a pub reminiscing, is just sublime.
    I'm not sure such a massive, and at the same time intelligent, project could happen today. They certainly couldn't get the same wide range of top interview subjects, the passing of time having it's effect.
    I wonder if 30 years is the ideal amount of time to allow to pass before making a decent general assessment of any war?

    Really must get cracking on the book.
  14. leob84

    leob84 Junior Member

    I think price for that is now £34.98.
    So still change to make good bargain.
  15. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Can anyone tell me if the DVD box set includes the following which were shown on TV after the series originally aired:-

    1. A special 2 part (3 hour long) programme on the Final Solution narrated by Eric Porter.

    2. A 2 hour long program on the making of the series. Jeremy Isaacs,
    the Directors and other Producers are interviewed.

    3. An hour and a half long programme with extra interviews not shown in
    the original series.

    A friend gave me copies from old video that he burned onto DVD recently. They are all excellent.
  16. Mullet94

    Mullet94 Senior Member

    I was in HMV yesterday and the boxset was £100. I'm recording the series at the moment from BBC2 but I'm seriously tempted to buy this at the amazon price.
  17. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    I have the 30th Anniversary Limited Edition which includes the following:

    The original 26 episodes:

    8 extra episodes narrated by Eric Porter, which are titled:
    Who Won World War II? Mainly Stephen Ambrose's opinion:
    Secretary to Hitler i.e. Traudl Junge:
    Warrior: additional interviews with fighting men:
    Hitler's Germany 1933-39:
    Hitler's Germany 1939-45:
    The Two Deaths of Adolf Hitler:
    The Final Solution Part I:
    The Final Solution Part II:

    30th Anniversary Disc including interviews with the makers:

    Mark Arnold-Forster's book that accompanied the series:

    An article on the series from the Journal of the society of film and television arts.

    This set includes 11 discs, of which the original series takes up 7, the Eric Porter narrated specials 3 and the 30th anniversary interviews the last.

    I don't know if the edition currently being offered by Amazon includes the book and journal article but, since it claims to have 11 discs, it should have all the special episodes.
  18. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    I agree. A lot of effort to record the entire series and if you miss one or they change the prog times without you knowing.:frown:

  19. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    Sounds like some of those I've got are those included in the set you've got. Thanks

  20. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Good book, but very dated. I would say it doesnt accompany the documentary series that well and stands in its own right as a good read.
    But again very dated. For its time like any other work, much spent on allied war in the west but any book that doesnt give a more than cursory view of Kursk etc, has to be looked on as dated I suppose.

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