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The World At War

"Completely Indispensable"

"Most effective piece of TV ever"

"monumental historical record"

"Needs to be seen"

"26 episodes, plus 6 special programmes"

"The finest visual history of WW2 ever made!"

The World At War with Laurence Olivier (mainly)

Includes 'A New Germany 1933-39', 'Distant War 1939-40', 'France Falls: May-June 1940', 'Alone - Britain: May 1940 - June 1941', 'Barbarossa: June - December 1941' and 'Banzai: Japan Strikes', 'Desert - The War In North Africa', 'Stalingrad', 'Wolf Pack', 'Red Star' and 'Whirlwind', 'Tough Old Gut', 'It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow', 'Home Fires', 'Inside The Reich - Germany 1940-44', 'Morning' and 'Occupation', 'Pincers', 'Genocide', 'Nemesis', 'Japan 1941-45', 'Pacific - The Island To Island War', 'The Bomb', 'Reckoning' and 'Remember'. Total running time 32 hours (11 tapes or 5 DVDs).

Review

When this series was first shown in 1973 it redefined the gold standard for TV documentary; it remains the benchmark by which all factual programming must judge itself. Originally shown as 26 one-hour programmes, it set out to tell the story of the Second World War through the testimony of key participants. The result is a unique and unrepeatable event, since many of the eyewitnesses captured on film did not have long left to live. Each programme is carefully structured to focus on a key theme or campaign, from the rise of Nazi Germany to Hitler's downfall and the onset of the Cold War. There are no academic "talking heads" here to spell out an official version of history; the narration, delivered with gravitas by Sir Laurence Olivier, is kept to a minimum. The show's coup was to allow the participants to speak for themselves. Painstaking research in the archives of the Imperial War Museum also unearthed a vast quantity of newsreel footage, including on occasion the cameraman's original raw rushes which present an unvarnished and never-before-seen picture of important events. Carl Davis' portentous theme underlines the grand scale.

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