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Most of what we know about World War II comes from monochromatic images and pictures. But this documentary brings something different: it's a fascinating collage of colored images from that period, filmed in 8mm and 16mm. All the footage was gathered from private collectors, soldiers, tourists, state institutions, even footage shot by Hitler's private pilot and there's also images captured by Eva Braun, Hitler's companion. Most of the images were recently discovered, some of them hidden for more than 40 years and they were all remastered and put together by director Michael Kloft. Written by
This is an excellent film but the title is a little misleading, as there is also plenty of colour footage from the UK, USA and the Pacific theatre.
The chronology of the Second World War is sometimes tricky to follow, because the producers were limited to colour film footage. But, that aside, there is much to gain from this film. Not only are there extracts from footage taken by famous film directors while in uniform, there are extracts from propaganda films of both sides and of film that never made it to the screen, having not met with the approval of the censor.
Well known aspects of the Second World War are here in colour and that certainly adds some immediacy for viewers today. For me, however, it is the footage that one never, or rarely, sees that makes this film so valuable a contribution to one's understanding of the war. Life went on, of course, and it's the private 'home movies' taken by civilians and military alike that are so memorable. It is so easy to forget, when watching some of the classic footage of the fighting of the Second World War, that ordinary life did go on. Propaganda some of it may have been, but it's no less valuable.
Robert Powell's English narrative is wrong when he describes HMS Ivanhoe as a cruiser - she was an I class destroyer (lost 1 September 1940).
Overall, this is an excellent addition to the wealth of material already available and it helps to understand the human story of the years 1939 to 1945.
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