This well made documentary sees the outbreak of WW II (from the invasion of Poland 1939 till the fall of France 1940) as the contemporaries have perceived it in movie theaters. The news ... See full summary »
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Christian Brendel ...
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This well made documentary sees the outbreak of WW II (from the invasion of Poland 1939 till the fall of France 1940) as the contemporaries have perceived it in movie theaters. The news reels, made by the Germans, the French and the British, are presented in the historical context, in a chronological order. Sometimes, the narrator commentates on misleading, propagandistic images, such as pictures of German military exercises which are later presented as real combat footage. Written by fa404748 (Belgium)

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16 June 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

39-40, la guerre des images  »

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(two parts)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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An opportunity wasted
16 September 2015 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

An opportunity wasted.

A documentary on the first 10 months or so of World War II, from Germany's invasion of Poland until the fall of France. Told through the lens of German, French and British (and, to a lesser extent, Finish) newsreels, it shows how the war was portrayed on the different sides.

The premise of this documentary intrigued and excited me. Seeing how the propaganda machines of the three main combatant nations show the progress of the war and contrasting this with actual events - sounds like a great idea. At the very least, Marketing 101 for nations at war with the potential to be a great study into wartime propaganda.

However, for the most part, this documentary doesn't deliver on that premise. Yes, we have some fairly rare newsreel footage - the kind of footage that doesn't get shown in most war documentaries because it is just propaganda, or told from the loser's side. This is a massive plus.

There is no compare-and-contrast, however. The footage often covers disparate events. Most of the footage, in fact, covers the passive, "phony war" period, so all we see is troops preparing themselves for war, and hardly any reports on actual battles. The biggest slice of action prior to the Battle of France was the German invasion of Norway, and that gets one mention on the British side and none on the German side.

So, Marketing 101 this is not.

Moreover, the narration is hardly objective or interesting. There's a cynicism and smartarseness about the narration which really doesn't help the documentary.

Overall: mildly interesting, but could have been so much better.


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