World War 2 in Colour
a good Third Reich documentary as much as the next WWII obsessive, but
there does come a point during one’s third or fourth sitting of
Ovation’s Stalingrad series or 1945: The Year That Changed the
World where one comes to a single conclusion; namely that there’s
only so much black and white footage a man can take.
World War 2 in Colour, a decade-old and still largely unsurpassed
SBS compendium of some of the most immediate, arresting and worthwhile
of the surviving colour footage from the period. Much of the material
was once thought lost; some captured German films turned up in Moscow
near the turn of the century, other Nazi propaganda films gathered dust
in state archives for several decades before being discovered.
film is comprised of two chapters. ‘Blitzkrieg’ documents the Nazi rise
to power and its dominance over Western Europe during the early years of
the war. ‘Triumph and Tragedy’, as the title suggests, focuses on the
German losses in Russia, the eventual American defeat of the Japanese
and the great number of casualties suffered by all the armed forces
involved in the greatest mass conflict humanity had ever known. The
compilation also includes the filmed reminiscences of Wehrmacht soldiers
at the Eastern front, Allied and National Socialist propaganda films,
footage of Nazi rallies, candid shots of Hitler taken by an uncredited
Eva Braun, period newsreels and the work of American auteurs such as
William Wyler and John Ford, who won an Academy Award for his coverage
of the 1942 Battle of Midway.
compendium of colour footage the film is by no means complete or
authoritative, and though the narration is generally excellent certain
of its assertions may also be disputed. It is however an excellent
introduction to some of the best colour footage of the period, and a
great starting point for those wishing to delve into the topic in more
detail. Much of the material, such as footage of a Japanese kamikaze
crashing his plane into a US warship or amateur shots of the German war
injured carry a resonance and poignancy that is magnified by the fact
they are presented in colour. It’s a moving and important collection as
well as a forceful reminder of all that’s great, and ignoble, about the
Audio & Video
film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio that fills out nicely on a
widescreen presentation without coming across too stretched or boxy.
The English 2.0 soundtrack is fairly standard but up to narrative
requirements nonetheless; no audio dropout or faults to speak of.