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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > World War II > TV Mini-Series > D-Day: The Total Story (History Channel)

D-Day: The Total Story (History Channel)

 

Picture: C+†††† 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 round.

 

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 everything else.

 

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


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