I cannot say enough about this absolutely wonderful, awe inspiring, moving historical Triumph! The story of young Canadians in WWI, then and where they lay now is very emotional and prideful. I am very thankful to Mr Christie and all involved in this essential work. It inspires me to visit these sites someday myself, with new eyes as to the horrors of that war in particular. This is a stunning achievement not to be missed! It should be mandatory in every Canadian school from here on out!
I would highly recommend this for anyone interested in the Canadian effort during the First World War. This series will take you on a tremendously engaging and respectful tour of the events and regions that resulted in the deaths of over 65,000 Canadian volunteers - from their facing down the first gas attacks at St. Julien to the re-capture of the city of Mons at the war's end. This is bound to instill an intense pride in their actions and great sadness in their sacrifice.
Outstanding piece of work topped off with excellent narration. Norm Christie's knowledge is amazing and he brings the stories of these real Canadians right into your living room. Viewing this series should be made mandatory for all Canadian (and British!) students and not just on November 11th. I could spend lines expounding why this is a must buy, but it is not necessary. The price is a bargain for what you get and you will certainly not be disappointed on its coverage. In fact, I guarantee that after you watch the ~270 minutes you will wish there were 270 more. I am glad DVDs "wear well" because these are ones that you will watch more than once. Well done Norm!
A focused portrayal of one aspect of the First World War - the Canadians at war - which contributes to understanding the whole. Grippingly intense without cheap thrills. Patriotic and proud without being jingoistic. Firmly realistic, straightforwardly informative and yet inspiring portrayal of Canadian soldiers in battle on the Western Front of the First World War. The accurate title, "For King and Empire", anchors this documentary with unfashionabe, unabashed honesty. The even-toned narration by historian Norm Christie complements this story of heroic steadfastness and dedication in the face of death. It reminded me of my old high school teacher as he sparingly mentioned some his horrific experiences as a young Canadian soldier on the Western Front. Like my old teacher, Mr. Christie personalizes the cost by describing the cemeteries and some of the individuals there who paid the price of battle with their lives.
Canada lost more soldiers in World War 1 than in WW2, a surprising fact unknown to most Canadians. Nearly all of these military deaths occurred along a150 km stretch of French/Belgian soil. "For King and Empire", over six 1 hr episodes triy to put all the major battles fought by Canadians into perspective with the sites they were fought and the cemeteries where the soldiers were buried that are located throughout the battle zone. From the stirring pipes and drum rendition of "The Maple Leaf Forever"..(which has I think a more stirring tune than "O Canada"), we journey with author and narrator, Norm Christie, and his crew over all the major battle sites. Today, of course, this is a beautifully picturesque farming country, contrasted with period photos showing the trench warfare panorama of mud and desolation along with towns reduced by artillery to a "Hiroshima-like" skeletal wasteland. I have visited some of these sites and cemeteries and it is chilling to stop and look at Beaumont-Hamel (Somme), for example, and picturing yourself as a 20 year old, "going over the top" in the 1st Battle of the Somme, where the Newfoundland regiment suffered 80-90% casualties on that first day. Even more sobering is a walk between the rows and rows of crosses where these young men (rarely do you see one over 22 yr.old) are laid to rest. It was so sad, especially for my wife, who, more than once, was overwhelmed with tears....and yet we knew none of these soldiers. Norm Christie wrote, narrated, and tours the sites for us...he is not a professional historian or media person; but a Metallurgical Engineer with a love for history and a personal tie, through relatives, to World War 1. Often, he stops on his walks through the fields and picks up debris still left over nearly 100 years after the conflict and explains these bits and pieces in terms of what the average soldier would have experienced. I highly recommend this well done and inspiring DVDset, especially to young adults who have never learned about the sacrifice of over 60,000 dead + many more injured. My wife and I were so moved by our 3 days in this area, that we have decided to go back and visit more of the obscure cemeteries. We....that is the collective "We" need to remember and pause for some reflection on the absurdity and insanity of war and the terrible price paid and to that end, we must be vigilant that these monuments and cemeteries remain in perpetuity to do that. One final point for Canadians...we all know about our great monument at Vimy Ridge....but what is more tragic and poignant are the number of soldiers whose graves or markers on monuments like Vimy and elsewhere inscribed with "Known only unto God". ....the unknown soldier and now, thankfully made permanent in our psyche by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.... Thanks to the DVD, I found out one of the little known ironies of history in that in 1940, Adolf Hitler and some of his Nazi cronies were photographed standing in front of this great monument after the Wermacht had conquered France. I did not know this until Norm Christie showed the photo in the film....and I did not know that Hitler stopped the demolition of the monument, which his over eager pals were about to do....Despite his own monstrosities, Hitler had a certain feeling for WW1 soldiers because he had been one. He actually saved the monument.....something he did not do for the huge German Memorial to their own dead at Tannenburg as the Russians approached in 1945. Even more ironic, for old Frank "the man", is that I have a picture of your's truly standing in exactly the same spot in front of the Vimy memorial some 70 years later....the picture being taken before Christie's DVD came out. I did not find one weak point in this DVD....absolutely, highly recommended.
As a military enthusiast and amateur historian, I have always enjoyed this series by Norm Christie, both in book form as well as these movie documentaries. I have followed in his footsteps in north east France and Belgium many times and can attest to the raw accuracy of what he recounts in this series. This is a splendid collection of tales of the Canadian Army in WW I and it is, in my opinion, a must have for anyone remotely interested in the performance of our troops in the Great War as well as an invaluable insight from the Canadian perspective into a number of key, significant battles that took place in that dreadful conflict.
In my opinion, this series should be viewed by all Canadians, regardless of if you're a fan of history or not. Considering how often we disregard our military as somewhat of a joke, it is easy to forget the great things that our ancestors did during WWI. This series is well written, well shot, and is a great explanation of the contribution of the Canadian forces to the great war.
the making of a great young army, battle autonomy at Vimy Ridge, the great bloodbath on the Somme with wholly incompetent British highcommand and a touching look at the huge cost of such incompetency. A worthwhile effort and well worth the price of admission