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Case Number 21087: Small Claims Court

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The Lost Voices Of World War I: A Generation Lost

Mill Creek Entertainment // 2008 // 221 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // April 9th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart is glad the trenches of DVD reviewing are nothing compared to World War I.

The Charge

"In a remarkable exercise spanning the past fifteen years, the last survivors of the Great War were interviewed on film."

The Case

The Lost Voices of World War I: A Generation Lost was produced for the History Channel to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the 1918 peace. It blends the stories told by British people who were touched by World War I—both at home and on the battlefield—with reenactments, photos, and rare film.

The six episodes are as follows:

• "The Call to Arms"
Early recruitment gets a good response.

• "The Battle of the Somme"
Shell shock, tanks, and the lives of stretcher bearers are featured.

• "Saving the Wounded"
The story of the roughly two million soldiers who were hurt.

• "Horror in the Mud"
Trench foot, the Hindenburg Line, and conscription are among the topics.

• "The Home Front"
Zeppelin air raids, writing to soldiers, and the Women's Land Army are covered.

• "The Boys of 1918"
Veterans come home.

Getting the stories of World War I on film was important; the memorials at the end of each episode to the featured speakers who have passed away (most of whom made it past the century mark) tell you that. The soldiers and others who lived through the war nearly a century ago tell their stories with vivid memories. Some do so with the fear they must have lived through, but that's surprisingly rare. The things that come across more are a sense of duty, patriotism, and sacrifice. Even so, viewers will note that the tone gradually gets grimmer with each chapter, reflecting the mire of the war.

The blending of war stories and period materials is seamless. In one of the most unusual linkages, the story of a theater pianist goes well with the first newsreel footage that came to Britain from the trenches.

The picture quality is variable, with faded and marred vintage footage, but it's generally watchable. Some of it is gritty; there's a TV-14 rating.

What keeps me from recommending this documentary wholeheartedly is the technical problem I found on the review discs. Namely, the third and sixth installments aren't there in full; I was watching for just a few minutes and the content disappeared abruptly, leaving the logo of the DVD processor on the screen. In other words, I didn't get to watch a third of the series.

The Verdict

The documentary series isn't guilty, but Mill Creek is guilty of disc problems.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 221 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Documentary
• Television
• War

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• None

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