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Only enjoyable for those who have a basic knowledge of the First World War.
I have to admit that when I first watched this documentary I enjoyed it. However, after reading the criticisms it received on "The Great War Forum", I re-watched "The First World War From Above" and realised that it's a deeply flawed documentary.
It begins with a introduction that relays all the information the viewer needs to know within one minute, but then spends another two minutes summarising what we're going to see over the next hour which feels redundant and waste of running time. When the programme properly begins, we're told that a unique 78 minute film has been unearthed in the French archives, and has been hidden from view for nearly a century. However, the film in question: "En Dirigeable Sur Les Champs de Bataille," was used in the 2008 documentary "14-18: The Noise and the Fury" and some it was apparently employed in a 1984 programme. This 78 minute film was recorded by Lucien Le Saint in 1919, aboard a French airship that flew along the Western Front, piloted by Jacques Trolley de Prévaux. The presenter tells us that he'll be using a modern airship to fly over the same landscape that was filmed in 1919, to see what remains of the Western Front. The 1919 footage is amazing, but unfortunately only about four minutes of it is used in the whole programme.
The biggest problem with this documentary is its bizarre structure. Despite what we're told at the start, the presenter isn't shown retracing the journey of the 1919 airship until more than halfway through the film (and even then, not for very long). In the meantime, we do get a couple of interesting scenes covering aerial photography, but 20 minutes in, the focus shifts to the infamous Somme battlefield, even though this location was never filmed by Le Saint. Furthermore, very little of the Somme segment pertains to aerial observation, and focuses instead on tunnelling operations and the losses suffered on 1st July 1916. Next, they move onto the mining success at the Battle of Messines, with the modern airship flying over the mine craters, yet although we're told that Le Saint filmed part of this battlefield we're only actually shown about 10 seconds of his material. It seems odd to retrace the French airship's journey, but show the audience so few examples of how various locations look today, in comparison to 1919. The rest of the documentary features very little on aerial observation and instead features stories that are interesting, but feel out of place, such as a French woman recalling when she fell into a WW1 tunnel network beneath her farm.
Another major problem is the presenter and one of the contributing archaeologists saying things that are either incorrect or don't make sense. For example, when the former is flying in a WW1-era aeroplane, he remarks, "The most dangerous part of all was take-off. If the engine cut before you got airborne, the plane simply drove itself and the pilot into the ground." But this could happen to any aeroplane, so why even bring this up? Later, when the modern airship flies over the Palingbeek golf course, the archaeologist aboard says that the course's lakes are almost certainly mine craters that have filled with water since the war. However, these are actually ornamental lakes that were created in the 1890s long before the First World War. Near the end, Paris is described as "untouched by war" even though Germany used enormous siege guns to shell the city in 1918. I would be willing to overlook such comments, if they had been few and far between, but unfortunately they occur frequently here.
Near the end, the presenter meets Aude Trolley de Prévaux, the daughter of the airship pilot, who tells us about how her father and mother helped the French Resistance in WW2, but were eventually betrayed, tortured and executed. She's then informed about Le Saint's film, and is delighted to view footage of her father (she was only a baby when he was killed). Whilst I was interested to see her reaction, my issue with this scene is that the presenter was questioning her whilst she was watching it, when in my opinion he should have remained quiet and let her have her happy/painful moment.
Overall, if you have a basic knowledge of the First World War, then you might enjoy this documentary. However, if your WW1 knowledge is quite extensive, I would not recommend watching it, because the factual errors, the confusing structure and the general failure to follow the original premise, will probably be quite annoying.