Time: 10 hours. Color/B&W.
Narrated by Gary Sinise.
Think of this series as Ken Burns in astounding high definition, minus the often-portentous tone. It follows a dozen individuals (two war correspondents, an army nurse, a Tuskegee pilot, a marine, a GI, and so on) through the American aspects of the war, culling from diaries, letters, archives, and new interviews. To illustrate, it draws from some 3,000 hours of rare color film dug out of archives around the globe.
Though only the first 2 of 10 hours were ready for viewing by press time, the overall results seem unambiguously clear. These ingeniously edited spools (sometimes involving a bit of chronological sleight-of-hand) create a sustained visual narrative of remarkable, often heart-stopping footage that has never before been seen—or seen only in black and white. Now the color has been digitally restored, and a surround-sound audio track mixed in to boot.
Dogfights, bombing runs, hitting the beaches, crawling through jungle and over desert, shivering in foxholes, being picked off by snipers, feeling the artillery concussions, tending the horribly wounded and dying—none of it, except in raw reality, has ever looked or felt quite like this. It’s hard to overstate the impact of this one-two punch of dazzling technological wizardry and solid you-are-there history. WWII in HD premiered on the History Channel November 15–19.
Originally published in the February 2010 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.