Sir Jeremy Isaacs highly deserves the numerous awards for documentaries he has earned: the Royal Television Society's Desmond Davis Award, l'Ordre National du Mérit, an Emmy, and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. His epic The World at War
remains unsurpassed as the definitive visual history of World War II.
The Second World War was different from other wars in thousands of ways, one of which was the unparalleled scope of visual documents kept by the Axis and Allies of all their activities. As a result, this war is understood as much through written histories as it is through its powerful images. The Nazis were particularly thorough in documenting even the most abhorrent of the atrocities they were committing--in a surprising amount of color footage. The World at War was one of the first television documentaries that exploited these resources so completely, giving viewers an unbelievable visual guide to the greatest event in the 20th century. This is to say nothing of the excellent, comprehensible narrative. Some highlights:
- A New Germany 1933-39: early German and Nazi documentation of Hitler's rise to power through the impending attack on Poland
- Whirlwind: the early British losses in the blitz in the skies over Britain and in North Africa
- Stalingrad: the turning point of the war and Germany's first defeat
- Inside the Reich--Germany 1940-44: one of the most fascinating documentaries that exists on life inside Nazi Germany, from Lebensborn to the Hitler Youth
- Morning: prior to Saving Private Ryan, one of the only unromanticized views of the Normandy invasion
- Genocide: this film is one of the most widely shown introductions to the Holocaust
- Japan 1941-45: although The World at War is decidedly focused more on the European theater, this is an important look into wartime Japan and its expansion--early 20th-century history that lead to Japan's role in World War II is superficial
- The bomb: another widely shown documentary of the Manhattan Project, the Enola Gay, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki
The World at War will remain the definitive visual history of World War II, analogous to Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. No serious historian should be missing The World at War in a collection, and no student should leave school without having seen at least some of its salient episodes. Rarely is film so essential. --Erik J. Macki
More than 30 years after its initial broadcast, The World At War remains the definitive visual history of World War II. Unsurpassed in depth and scope, its 26 hour-long programs feature an extraordinary collection of newsreel, propaganda, and home-movie footage drawn from the archives of 18 nations, including color close-ups of Adolf Hitler taken by his mistress, that present an unvarnished perspective of the war's pivotal events: Penetrating interviews with eyewitness participants - from Hitler's secretary to Alger Hiss to ordinary citizens who stood outside the battle lines - add spine-tingling, first-hand accounts to an already unforgettable viewing experience.
Informative and unbiased, The World At War is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an International Emmy Award, the National Television Critics' Award for Best Documentary, and knighthood for its creator, Sir Jeremy Isaacs.
Narrated by Academy Award winner Sir Laurence Olivier and digitally re-mastered for DVD, this is epic history at its absolute best.