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WWII IN 3D

Review by Michael Jacobson

Narrator: Tom Wilkinson
Director: Douglas J. Cohen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Newvideo
Features: None
Length: 46 Minutes
Release Date: January 24, 2012

Film ***1/2

You're a history buff...you think you've seen all there is to see about World War II? Think again.

WWII in 3D brings you closer to the drama than ever before. The History Channel has compiled a remarkable collection of images that will make even the most astute student of the great conflict stare in amazement.

When I first heard about this offering, I thought it might be cool, but obviously fake. Seeing historical images enhanced for 3D viewing was intriguing, but had to be the work of modern trickery. Right?

Wrong. It turns out that 3D technology is older than most of us realize. Adolf Hitler, maniac that he was, had an astounding grasp of how technology could be used to further his murderous mission. He was one of the first to effectively use television, and, as it turns out, a pioneering patron of 3D as well.

Many photographs, all carefully staged to send Der Fuhrer's unmistakable message of power and dominance, were captured in 3D, and remained mostly unseen for some 70 years. The horrifying Nuremberg rallies, the onslaught of the Nazi armies, the terrible triumphs in France and Poland...all of these and more were captured for wondrous and fearful citizens of the world.

This program shows these images and more, including the only known surviving 3D film from the war, showing Nazis demonstrating one of their anti-aircraft guns. Given that it was shot at a time the Allies were kicking butt, it's believed today it was filmed as a way to train replacements as more and more Nazi soldiers were biting the dust.

The true horrors of the Holocaust were carefully denied 3D access, but modern footage lets us tour the places were countless Jewish victims were enslaved, tortured and killed. The modern footage also shows us some new looks at places photographed during the war. There has been much healing since then, but many scars will always remain.

Some even managed to capture 3D images of the liberation of Paris and the joyful throngs in the streets greeting American and British heroes while the Nazis retreated into the pages of infamy. 3D cameras and films were hard to come by, but some were plucky enough and astute enough to capture some precious moments of history and keep them lifelike for all times.

This was an incredible experience, and opened my eyes to images from the war that simply wouldn't have come alive in the pages of textbooks. I'm certain any history buff will find delight in these incredible, though often terrible, images.

Video ***

Not all of the 3D images quite mesh with modern technology...there is some noticeable ghosting here and there. But the integrity still rings true, and getting to look at one of the great conflicts in civilized history in a new way makes up for it. The new modern footage fares much better, and takes you to the locations of the war in beautiful and exciting ways.

Audio ***

Though mostly score and dialogue, this lively 5.1 mix was a clear and joyful listen, and helped add to the drama of the images.

Features (zero stars)

Nein.

Summary:

The History Channel has done it again. The war comes alive in WWII in 3D, and gives even the most dedicated student a chance to view it all again with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

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