Monday, November 16, 2009

World War 2 in HD

WWII in HD on HISTORY – Coming November 15th (promo) - The funniest movie is here. Find it

Last night the History Channel had on the first of their week long series WW 2 in HD. They have taken old footage shot during the war and colored the film and cleaned it up to create a detailed look at the war. For those who are not old enough to have experienced anything from WW2,(which is most of us at this point) this is the best documentary I have seen. It captures the feelings the soldiers and American citizens had during the war.

Up until now, films of the war were either in black and white or very poor film quality which did not capture the power and enormity of the situation. This new series changes all of that. Some of the old video is still not very good, but there are other clips that look as though they were filmed yesterday. The newly refurbished videos look so cleaned up that it puts you in the place of those soldiers the same way live CNN or Fox news does today.

Last nights episode started with video taken during the beginning of the war when Germany started to invade all of eastern Europe in 1939 and western Europe in 1940. The videos showed life in Germany with Nazi soldiers every where as well as talked about the laws that had been put into place against Jews. This WW2 story is one I have read about hundreds of times but the quality of the videos really helps to place you in that time period and get an understanding of what it must have been like.

From there the story follows an Austrian immigrant who escaped Nazi imprisonment and came to the United States. The show spends sometime following him in the US in 1940. They show how much the United States was disconnected to what was going on over in Europe, and showed many home videos of people just having great times while Germany was taking over the world. These videos were all given great color and really put a lot of personality on a time period that was mainly in black and white. Black and white video really does not capture the power of an event like color does.

As the show moves forward they show battle plans of the Germans and footage of Germany in Paris and many other places. Until December 1941 it seemed like Germany would take over the entire world. Plans for Germany to come to South America and conquer the continent and then invade North America are shown in great detail. Then Pearl Harbor happens and all of that starts to change.

What they show however is that for the first year after Pearl Harbor it was not a guarantee that The US would have any measurable effect on the war. They explain that at the time of Pearl Harbor the US Military was only the 17th largest in the world and was not considered to be very formidable at all. None of our men had any real training and our equipment was old and no where near as good as the Germans. There were videos of boot camp training that showed how ill prepared we were in the quality of men and supplies.

Again, the power of the show is not in the information but the quality of the film that was cleaned up. Hearing these stories of the war with great looking films really places you during that time period and just how desperate and scary of a time it must have been. Hitler running crazy taking over the world and seemingly to be unstoppable while not having the confidence in our Military that we have today.

I think people today forget how important having a good military is. Think about all the things we don't have to worry about because we no we are safe because of our great solders. That feeling of protection was not there once we were hit on December 7th. The American public knew we didn't have a strong military, and throughout 1942 there is video showing some of the unease and panic of this first year. Many people volunteered to join our military during that first year but the outcome was never guaranteed. With half our Navy destroyed at Pearl we were very limited in our response in 42'. The battles we did have against the Japanese were very one sided at first. Americans were ill prepared for the scale that this war would be.

The first night of this series was very powerful and I am eagerly awaiting the rest of the episodes. The first night also covered the battle at Guadalcanal and our pushing the Germans out of North Africa in 1943. These videos make all the difference in showing what it felt like during this time period. Some of the cleaned up shots make it seem like it was filmed in 2008 not 1942. This is a show every American should watch, so that they understand how lucky we are to still be Americans. In 1942, it was not a forgone conclusion that we were going to beat the Japanese and Germans. At that point we were young and untested while they were conquering the world. Some of these videos are very graphic but at the same time they are the most powerful videos I have seen of any war, including those taken during our current conflicts. Today's wars we know the United States is so powerful that it would have to be close to the end of the world for our country to fall, but during WW2 the United States could have collapsed if we lost.

Watch this series and thank a solder next time you see them, because they are the difference between feeling safe and being afraid and unsettled while you live your life.

History Channel website
History of World War 2
WW2 Timline

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