oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen

CBS WWI documentary

World War I, a CBS News production. Narration written by Arthur Kloch, narrated by Robert Ryan. Originally aired 1964-1965.

I bought this series from DeepDiscount DVD expecting a single disc of maybe two hours. Instead, I received a three-DVD set, each DVD approximately three hours long.

The historical narrative is much simplified compared to the books I've already read, and also the episodes are by topic rather than strictly chronological; so, watching this, it helps to already know what events were all happening at the same time. They don't give you a timeline. The show focuses on Big Names of History, or people who will become Even Bigger Names later on, like Herbert Hoover and Winston Churchill, as well as on major battles. So far, there's been little to nothing about the various home fronts, which is fine since I've researched that very heavily. The very best thing about this series is that both sides are shown and described in equally neutral language and with equal depth. This both surprised and pleased me.

However, I wanted this for the film footage, and that I got in spades. It's not as organized as I would like. I've only watched the first DVD so far, and I've already noticed there are some shots they reuse whenever called for, for example a shot of shells exploding. I'm pretty sure that generalized footage of soldiers on the march, etc., was used where it made sense in the episode, not where/when it might actually have been filmed. But I don't mind so much; I wanted the look of the thing. Somehow, photographs give you something words, even primary source words, can't, and film footage even more so. You can see faces, and you can see their expressions change. You can see their body language. Sometimes, in watching the people, I barely heard the narration.

The footage is in black and white, and sometimes shaky. Watching on my small television, my eyes grew tired after a while. Sometimes it was difficult to watch, when I would think of nameless soldiers seen in closeup, "I wonder how he died? Or if he survived the war?" That, too, is why I think watching this is very useful as research. Not for the facts it gives me, but for the speculations it engenders.
Tags: dvd, wwi, wwi research

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