D-Day: The Total Story
Sound: C+†††† Extras: B-†††† Episodes: B
As I watched this History Channel presentation on the
events of D-Day, it struck me that this was actually an entertaining look at
the strategies and tactics used in the allied invasion of Normandy. A lot
of good stock footage found its way into this, and the only reenactments that I
can remember are found in the Battle Stations bonus feature. The
footage plays along well with the interviews conducted with veterans, where
they share their personal accounts of what they faced and how they managed to
stay alive. D-Day: The Total Story is the
backbone in this 2-disc set from the History Channel and New Video.
Though the other documentaries included sometimes stray off the path into other
areas of the war, or almost off track completely, they do paint a more detailed
background of the events.
The most grabbing portion on this set is Dear Home:
Letters From World War II. This presentation doesnít focus on any
particular group of fighters, but rather a broad range of those involved in the
war and their loved ones. Itís most interesting when more of the story on
who wrote the letter and those who received it is revealed, whether the end is
happy or tragic. There isnít that much to relate this directly to the
events of D-Day, since this spans the entire war, but it easily holds
interest. An interesting footnote given is on what was called ďthe
scarlet scourgeĒ - when lipstick kisses on letters being microfilmed caused the
machines to jam up.
The weakest link for me was the Biography presentation Eisenhower:
Supreme Commander In Chief. This takes you through his entire life
from childhood, military service, and eventual presidency. Some
background into his life doesnít hurt on this set, as it helps cover all the
bases and makes owning this for classroom purposes much more versatile.
However, it just didnít feel compelling enough to sit through for another
The True Story Of The Screaming Eagles: 101st Airborne also
wasnít as enjoyable, but it connects well on the whole, even though it does
stray through Vietnam and present day from time to time for a more
comprehensive look at the Screaming Eagles beyond their inception. I
believe there is some outtake footage of the interviews conducted for D-Day:
The Total Story spliced in throughout this, though I donít think any of that
footage is reused. Itís still a decent watch, and the added interviews
help it to gel together on this set.
Lastly, we have a bonus presentation of Battle
Stations: Sherman Assault - a look into the Sherman tank and its use in the
war. There are reenactments used, but a lot of archive footage and
interviews are woven in with it, making for a nice blend that adds up
well. The only complaint I have about the reenactments is that the
footage outside of the tank itself is a little too bright, contrasting with
The overall picture quality varies on this set - the
interviews are shot on video, and clean, while the stock footage is
unpredictable, as can be expected from itís age and the circumstances under
which it was shot. Itís also a mix of color, black and white, still
photographs and drawings; but it moves through each of these seamlessly (most
of the time) and actually causes you to devote more attention. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 sound is an adequate stereo mix that works fine for a documentary -
most of it being narration, the only really weak sound being that which
accompanies the older footage.
A good compilation of material for those enthusiasts of
the war and for teachers looking to add interest and take time away from
textbook learning. Iíll be hanging onto my copy, and itís one of the few
documentaries I can see myself watching again.
-†† David Milchick