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Victory at Sea


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Product Details

  • Actors: Leonard Graves, Chester W. Nimitz, Winston Churchill, Karl Dönitz, Douglas MacArthur
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Sept. 30 2003
  • Run Time: 690 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS3X
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,910 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

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A 26-episode World War II documentary, Victory at Sea is one of the most important series in the history of television. Made in 1952, the show was a huge success, winning many major awards and even spawning albums featuring the orchestral score by Richard Rodgers, best known for his musicals with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. Produced with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy, each 26-minute program consists of black-and-white wartime film set to a narration by Leonard Graves. The two years leading up to America's entry into the war are dismissed in episode one, while the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gets a show of its own, the raid depicted in a brilliantly edited montage that almost certainly contains "docu-drama" footage. Each episode contains at least one powerful stand-alone sequence in the tradition of Serge Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin), these action-suspense set-pieces giving the programs an urgent, surprisingly modern feel. Indeed, the emphasis is at least as much on entertainment as information, the factual content delivered in poetic narration, the score transforming the war into a more than usually serious Hollywood adventure. The documentaries are nothing if not wide-ranging, covering parts of the land war despite the title, and including everything from the Atlantic convoys and U-boat "Wolfpacks" to war in Alaska, the South Atlantic, and the Far East, the Pacific War, and the Fall of Japan. There is an attempt to include other nations--certainly the D-Day episode acknowledges the British far more than Saving Private Ryan--but inevitably the focus is on America's war. The very dated narration gives a fascinating insight into how America saw WWII in the early 1950s, while the dynamic cutting and often genuinely remarkable wartime footage make Victory at Sea still gripping today. Twenty years later, Granada's The World at War would become the definitive television WWII history, but this release offers a unique opportunity to see a series of great importance from the very early days of television. --Gary S. Dalkin

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Dicola on Feb. 13 2009
Format: DVD
Because Victory at Sea was produced in 1952, its subject benefits from a sense of immediacy. A thorough look at WWII from a largely maritime, mainly US-focused perspective, the series also touches on most of the major land campaigns and battles throughout the war. However, one also gets the feeling that perhaps a good deal more material was still classified at production time, leaving producers having to repeat the same clips over and over -- often with irritating errors (I don't think the Italian air force bombed any ships running the Murmansk convoy run). The "deja-view" sense is even more obvious when you watch the episodes with small gaps between screenings. (One Stuka appears to have bombed half the world.) That said, the Richard Rodgers score and Peter Graves' introduction from the decks of the USS Intrepid of each episode for this History Channel production are both big bonuses and watching the series, small flaws and US-patriotic narration aside, remains a flat-out excellent experience for military history buffs.Victory At Sea
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 13 2004
Format: DVD
I feel compelled to write this review in response to those complaining about the audio on this set. A quick impression will set the tone for the remainder of what I have to say: The mono audio sounds like a clean version of what I recalled hearing when I saw some of these shows re-broadcast back in the late 80's. The audio balance during narrated segments was identical to that heard on the televison broadcast. I had no trouble hearing narration, and the music did not overpower the narrator during narration.
But, in all honesty, the volume of the opening themes on the DVD is a bit loud. I think the basis for complaints is that the music peaks between narration get very loud, such that I will hit the 20db mute button on my remote when there is no narration. However, the music and narration never fight each other during narrated segments. I believe that is a very important distinction.
The tendency for the "music only" segments to get loud seems more noticeable as the series progresses. It did not seem so obtrustive on the first disc, but is predictable enough by disc three that I was routinely hitting the mute button.
People have ascribed various sophisticated technical problems to the audio restoration, such as the film not being properly threaded, etc. It's a lot simpler than that. The sound man seems to have thought that turning the gain up on the instrumental only segments was somehow a good thing. In fact, it sounds like someone is artlessly cranking up the gain, instead of leaving the more constant level of the original soundtrack; I suspect an artless technician was attempting to simulate more modern sound by using louder sound.
In short, I cannot totally agree with those complaining about the soundtrack. My impression is more balanced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Roberts on July 2 2004
Format: DVD
I have the original soundtrack on LP, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Rogers himeself. It's my father's and needless to say, it does not get much play time for preservation sake. I also own both CDs "Victory at Sea" and "MORE Victory at Sea," (BMG Music 1992) both conducted by Robert Russel Bennett and contain slightly arraigned versions of the very familar complete soundtrack by the RCA Symphony Orchestra and is remixed in extremely good Dolby Surround. The original soundtrack is fairly clear and does sound a little tinny and was recorded in mono. (Unless it was a dual issue in both stereo and mono. I only have the mono.) While a properly mixed original soundtrack would sound great, IMHO, the Dolby version would sound even better. What I'm getting at is, it's not the soundtrack's fault this apparently sounds so bad. I really wanted to buy this, but I think I'll hold off and wait and see.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 23 2004
Format: DVD
I read the reviews and the problems with the sound variations but I chose not to believe them. "Victory at Sea" was a landmark documentary of its day. The Rogers soundtrack has been with us echoing in our minds since the 50's. I awaited with eager anticipation for its release on DVD and The History Channel dares to place its name on the box of this publication. Shame!!! I could understand variations from episode to episode in the decibels of sound (though that is not even necessary with today's technology), but the range of volume fluctuations within one episode is inexcusable. A remastered version in both video and above all in audio would not be amiss. Come on now A&E and the History Channel give us the real goods.
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Format: DVD
Like so many others, I grew up as a kid with this series, having first seen it in 1952. The themes, like "Hymn of Victory" ran through my head daily. Other kids chased each other around the playground; I did carrier takeoffs and landings - with the occasional waveoff! Over the years, I have purchased (and worn out) multiple copies of all 3 volumes of the score on LP, wore out an 8 track, and am gradually wearing out my CD's. I desperately bought the pirated 2 VHS cheap-o version years ago - bad move; later found the 6 VHS version to be a big improvement. This DVD version is the best. It plays ok on my Dolby system; I have no issues with the sound quality. The more I play the music, or view the programs, the more I appreciate it for what it is: a seminal example of TV documentary at its best. I recall talking with my Dad years ago about the genius of Richard Rogers' score and the poetic majesty of the narration (which also repeats admirably in the book). And yes, it still draws a tear here and there after all these years. I feel no one can watch this without coming away with a heartfelt appreciation for those who saved this world from a very real and horrible evil.
As for the layout of the videos, I actually appreciate the arrangement as I am planning to use selected episodes from this for my Middle School History class. The kids are in for an unforgettable experience.
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