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This is the first of 10 episodes in this new series on World War II,
presented by the History Channel, and airing as I write this. The first
two episodes, actually, were run together for a two-hour opening night.
The first thing you notice is the color. Most footage of WWII is in black-and-white so it's always a bit startling to see it in color. Most scenes in this opening night were black-and-white but there was still quite a bit of color. Right off the bat, we see parades in Germany with the bright red Nazi flags flying as the soldiers march down the street in front of thousands of spectators. It's kind of sad to see all the smiling little kids, but they love a parade and had no idea of the ideology behind this kind of military display.
I think the things that stands out most in this first episode are the amazing bombing scenes over England in which Germany really did a lot of damage. and the comments about the Nazis taking almost all of Europe while we (the United States) still just stood by and watched. It was amazing to me how much territory Germany won without much resistance. It's scary to think what could have happened. Along that idea, narrator Gary Sinise is very somber, but that's certainly understandable considering the topic of this horrible worldwide war.
WWII in HD: Darkness Falls (2009)
**** (out of 4)
The first entry in the ten part series chronicles the Nazi sweep across Europe as Hitler destroys one country after another, the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. people's outrage and the eventual first battles in the Pacific. On a personal level we hear the stories of a couple men. One being Jack Werner, a Jewish man living in Austria when the Nazi party started to take over there. He fled to America to become an actor but after that failed he decided to do his part to end the terror. We also hear from Archie Sweeney, a farm boy from upper New York who ends up at Pearl Harbor and Northern Africa. Charles Scheffel, who is sent to England and then Richard Tregaskis who ends up at Guadalcanal. This first part does a masterful job at building up the suspense of Hitler's terror as it swept through Europe, which is a pretty amazing job considering everyone watching this series is probably going to know what happened anyways. Considering how well known some of this stuff is, it's a minor miracle that we're able to be drawn into the stories as if we've never heard of them before. The attack on Pearl Harbor will have you as angry as people were when it originally happened and the suspense of our troops being hit by snipers at Guadalcanal is also quite powerful. The added bonus of this series is its promise to show footage that was shot in color as well as present footage that we've never seen before. This stuff here is certainly worth the price of a full admission because there's some rather amazing stuff shown including various planes flying through the sky on fire, crashing into ships and various other battles being fought. The brutish side of Hitler is shown in graphic detail including one extremely disturbing sequence where dozens of men are hung in open view so that no one would fire upon German soldiers again.
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