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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documetary > History > WWII > Total War – World War II & The Homefront: 1939 - 1947 (People’s Century/WGBH)

Total War – World War II & The Homefront: 1939 - 1947 (People’s Century/WGBH)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Main Program: B



A long time ago, the late Stanley Kubrick watched William Cameron Menzies’ The Shape Of Things To Come (1936) at the behest of Arthur C. Clarke, his friend and collaborator on 2001.  It was England’s answer to Fritz Lang’s 1926 masterwork Metropolis and tried to show the future in epic form.  Kubrick did not like the film and told Clarke he would never take his viewing advice again.  However, the film has its moments and as the Total War – World War II & The Homefront: 1939 – 1947 of the PBS/WGBH series The People’s Century series shows, it was sadly prophetic about warfare attacks on a civilian population at large.


It is the starting point to show how more civilians than soldiers for the first time dying in any war, something uncommon then, but that is how high the stakes were.  The hour-long program shows how this happened in almost every country involved, an unusual thing with so many of the films being “us and them” types that only show the U.S. side.  This portrait of the WWII years is especially valuable since in includes England, the U.S. and other countries like Germany, Russia, Korea, Japan and China.  This is unprecedented for the most part and this approach makes this vital must-see history.


The 1.33 X 1 image may be composed of a montage of old film and analog video interviews, but they look good for their age and are edited well together.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds, but does have a very well recorded narration by actor John Forsythe (of TV’s Dynasty and Charlie’s Angels) that is top rate.  The combination is as compelling as the material.  The only extras are the usual website link and DVD-ROM printable material.  The People’s Century series is a major event and Total War is an ace installment that is sadly too short.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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