History Channel // 2006 // 892 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 1st, 2007
"I shall return."
-- General Douglas MacArthur
This installment in The History Channel's "Ultimate Collections" series tackles one of the premiere subjects of documentaries: WWII. With all the drama, horror and real-life heroics that have made World War II the darling of buffs everywhere, and the documented resources to exhibit the carnage, there is more than enough to grist to pack into a DVD set for history fans. And The History Channel does just that, putting together a whopping 10 discs worth of content, when, adding in the bonus programs, totals just a few minutes south of 15 hours. That's, like, longer than the first Gulf War!
Let's take a gander at what awaits you with this massive set:
World War II: The War in Europe -- Part 1
"The Greatest Conflict" (An overview of the Europe theater)
"North Africa...the Desert War"
"The Beachhead at Anzio"
"D-Day: The Normandy Invasion"
World War II: The War in Europe -- Part 2
"Pursuit to the Rhine"
"The Bomber Offensive: Air War in Europe"
"The Battle of the Bulge"
"The Battle of Germany"
World War II: The War in the Pacific -- Part 1
"Jungle Warfare: New Guinea to Burma"
"Air War in the Pacific"
"The Bloody Ridges of Peleliu"
World War II: The War in the Pacific -- Part 2
"The Return to the Philippines"
"Okinawa...the Last Battle"
"Admiral William 'Bull' Halsey: Naval Warrior"
"A&E Biography: General Douglas MacArthur: Return of a Legend"
"Okinawa: The Final Battle"
"Empires of Industry: War Planes of World War II"
"Nuremberg: Tyranny on Trial"
Great Blunders of World War II -- Part 1
"The German Blunder at Dunkirk"
"Hitler's Declaration of War on the U.S."
"The Pilot Who Bombed London"
"Hitler's Flying Blunders"
Great Blunders of World War II -- Part 2
"Japan's Mistakes at Midway"
"The Failure of the Kamikaze"
"Death at Stalingrad"
"Operation Sea Lion"
That's quite a helping of WWII goodness. The two program bundles, "War in Europe" and "War in the Pacific," are comprised of the War Chronicles series from 1983, hosted by Patrick O'Neal. If you're a fan of WWII documentaries, chances are you've seen these programs, with O'Neal, pointer in hand and full-color diagrams at the ready, marches you through the Allied and Axis troop movements. Buttressing his explanations are loads of black and white combat footage; it's amazing stuff actually. Though dated, these shows remain detailed and fascinating. The on-the-battlefield footage is hugely compelling -- and not for the faint of heart. The only non-Chronicles portion of the features is the biography of Admiral William Halsey.
The remainder of the set is eclectic. "Nuremberg: Tyranny on Trial" is a deeply affecting program, detailing how the civilized world approached the seemingly impossible task of holding genocidal monsters accountable for their unspeakable acts. "Empires of Industry" and the MacArthur Biography are well done entries in the series and "Okinawa -- The Final Battle" is a brutal and mesmerizing look at one of the bloodiest, hardest-fought battles mankind has ever waged.
But my favorites of the set are the two "Blunders" discs. Lots of learning to soak up here, as tactical missteps from the Axis powers are documented and their self-destructive repercussions outlined. This war was not in the bag, and these discs show how the Nazi and Japanese campaigns turned on simple strategic screw-ups.
Overall, this is a righteous set, attractively packaged and bursting with more wartime info than you can shake a potato masher at. Bonus programs include "The Bomb Plot to Kill Hitler," "The Scattering of Convoy PQ17," "The Battle of the Bulge" and "A Bridge Too Far." These 10 discs will give you a lot of bang for not a whole lot of buck and should scratch that history-grubbing itch for a long, long time.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 892 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Programs