The First World War (2003)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Documentary, History, War
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A comprehensive survey of the history of World War I.

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Series cast summary:
Jonathan Lewis ...
 Narrator (10 episodes, 2003)
Kaiser Wilhelm II ...
 Himself (archive footage) (6 episodes, 2003)


In 1914, decades of building European resentments and rivalries finally exploded into a massive total war that became much larger and bloodier for far longer than anyone could have imagined. This series endeavors to tell the full story of World War I, which was far more than just the trenches and includes war on the high seas and furthest flung regions of the world. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pierwsza wojna swiatowa  »

Filming Locations:


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Show detailed on  »

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(10 parts)


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User Reviews

Probably the best documentary ever on the great War
9 June 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There have been some pretty good documentary series on World War One - like the BBC's '1914-18' and 'The Great War,' which inspired 'The World at War' - but this Channel Four series is the best ever. Unlike almost all of the others it gives you a look at the WORLD war aspect of it, not just focusing on the Western Front or (like most poor US documentaries) on the last year when America was involved, you also see the war in Russia, in Arabia, in Africa to get a real sense of the scale. Unlike 1914-18 it takes a chronological look at the war, but does it in a riveting way: the first episode plays like a thriller, while others are like tragedies. And it doesn't fall in for clichés or easy targets. It dispels a lot of myths along the way (for example, did you know the assassinated Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was anti-militarist and had actually prevented war breaking out several times? I didn't) and holds your attention throughout. And the haunting end title music written by a composer who died in the war is unforgettable.

One of the greatest TV shows ever, it's a crime this is so little known and failed to win any major awards. It's on DVD and if you've any interest in the subject at all, it's the only WW1 doc you need to buy.

61 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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