..

THE LAST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II

Review by Chastity Campbell

Director: Various
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Release Date: May 25, 2004

Film ***

World War II will always be in peoples’ minds and memories for one major reason:  it was very well documented.  Now, A&E has put together a two disc box set that will give you even more in depth information than  was available before.  

The Last Days of World War II would seem to most people to have been quite peaceful.  Peace treaties were being negotiated and signed.  Armies were laying down their weapons, walking away from their tanks, and accepting that a new era had arrived.  However, the truth of the matter was that peace was still a hesitant idea in the hearts and minds of those who were surrendering. 

Disc one contains the featurette, “The Last Days Of World War II”.  This disc details the last six months of the war.  During this time the British and American armies were hard at work liberating France.  All the while Russia continued its advance on Europe from the East. 

The Nazis were frantically trying to maintain their faltering grip on a nation of people too long oppressed.  They began hiding all the treasures they had plundered during the course of the war, while their Furor hid below ground with his new bride, enjoying a delusional honeymoon and belief that victory was still at hand.   I guess it was depending on whose table you were sitting down to dinner at!

From the Battle of the Bulge to the climax of the pacific, reporters and photographers were there.  The images used in this DVD were as always beautiful.  The black and white photographs were crisp, clean, and vivid.   The video footage of the Nuremberg trials was some of the best I’ve ever viewed.  To actually read about history is one thing, but to put the actions, with the faces of the people was astounding. 

Disc two breaks off into two separate featurettes, “USS Eagles 56: Accident or Target, and “Last Secrets Of The Axis.” 

In, “USS Eagles 56: Accident or Target,” we take a CSI like tour of history and try to determine if the USS Eagle 56 exploded, and sank because of a boiler incident, or if a German torpedo was responsible.  I hadn’t realized until viewing this DVD that German submarines got very close to the U.S. coast and were able to sink more than one merchant ship taking supplies to allied forces in Europe.  

The second featurette, “Last Secrets Of The Axis”, creates a map of Doctor Karl Haushofer’s connections to many major World War II events.   Haushofer was a distinguished German geography professor who was fascinated with Japan and its ritualistic society.   He is also credited with coining the phrase “Geopolitics”, which is used quite liberally today to explain geographical designation and its effect on politics across government lines. 

All in all this two disc set contains more information about World War II than I learned during my entire education.  I highly suggest giving these discs a spin because so many things about our countries history, as well as world history will become more clear for everyone who takes the time to view them. 

Video ***

This two disc DVD box set was presented in a 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen format.   The video quality on both discs was crisp and clean, with little to no dirty or graininess visible.  

The colors were great, but as always, it was the quality of the black and white video footage and photo’s that impressed me.  A&E definitely knows what they are doing when it comes to taking something old and making it look new again. 

Audio **

The audio quality on these DVD’s wasn’t on the same level I’m used to from A&E.  Typically they have a very high standard of audio presentation on all of the discs they put out there.  However, this boxed set seemed to be lacking the normal oomph behind all of the other A&E's productions, I have had the pleasure of viewing.  

The quality of the audio was okay, but there was nothing extremely spectacular about it.   There was a little bit of variance in levels from one section of the disc to another.  The levels didn’t jumped in the extreme, but it was obvious that they did not remain constant. 

Features ˝*

The only extras these DVDs had to offer were scene selection and interactive menus.

Summary:

The Last Days Of World War II was a very interesting and informative.  When you combine good production with great video and good audio, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong!  This two disc box set will make any history buff’s DVD collection much happier!