WWII in HD Blu-ray

I bought this set out of curiosity for the WW2 Pacific footage. The whole “personal memories” approach to TV history programs has been done many times often ending up in poorly done documentaries with not much historic relevance. Sadly WWII in HD is not different. It is certainly not “WWII in HD” at best it is some individual “American Soldiers stories of WWII in HD”.
I would have prefered if they would have taken the colour footage and simply explained where it was found and what it depicts. Instead the material was butchered, way too many fast and “artsy” cuts. In addition the various footage is cut together in a way so it matches what is told by the narrator, often mixing footage from completely different events and even time periods! This makes the uninformed viewer believe the footage he is seeing actually shows what the narrator is talking about. This is often NOT the case. Especially the short bits showing “generic” German and Japanese Guns and MGs are simply added to get the story told but have certainly not been filmed at the same locations.

Some embarrassing mistakes have also been made, i even spotted a short sequence showing US Marines in the episode about Tunisia!

I think most if not all the film they used was originally shot without sound, all the effects and voices have been added for this release. This would be OK if they had pointed this out, but it is done in a way to make the viewer believe this is the actual sound recorded during WW2.

Some of the image quality is really amazing, while others bits looks just OK or plain bad. Obviously this depended on the sources used, don’t expect high quality HD resolution from old 8mm and 16mm prints 😉 . But some really cool USMC footage, very useful to reenactors, collectors or just anybody interested in the USMC of WW2.

What really annoyed me is the fact that the original 4:3 footage was cropped (and sometimes stretched)  to fill a 16:9 screen. This is supposed to be documentary showing superb original footage from WW2?! So why cut away pieces of the top and bottom of the picture frame? I guess “Joe six-pack” is happy that there are no black bars in the picture… 😯

Take a look at this, i made a small demonstration to show what happens during cropping. This is how a 4:3 image should be displayed on a 16:9 screen:

Instead of this only a part of the 4:3 image is used:

This part is then blown up to fill the 16:9 screen, as you can see parts of the top and bottom are missing!

All in all “WWII in HD” is disappointing, it could have been so much better. If you can get it cheap it might still be worth it for some of the excellent footage.

~ by m1pencil on March 30, 2011.

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