AMAZON PRIME VIDEO ADDS THE WORLD AT WAR: I’m not sure when the 26-part 1973 series was added to the free programming available to those with an Amazon Prime account, but I noticed it on the roster for the first time while clicking through the Amazon video applet on the Roku box earlier this month. 20 years before the launch of the History Channel, the World At War played frequently on American TV in the mid-to-late 1970s. But for those who’ve never seen it, it’s arguably the best video introduction to World War II that’s ever been released. Produced by Thames Television beginning in 1969, the series featured the sonorous narration of Lawrence Olivier, powerful background music, loads of newsreel footage, and most importantly, interviews with all sides — soldiers who were still only in their 40s, and surviving former world leaders and politicians. (Contrast that with today’s History Channel documentaries, which struggle to find surviving WWII infantrymen who are now in their late 80s and 90s.
We’re very lucky that the World At War has been grandfathered into today’s world of PC history — just imagine how today’s SJWs and their love of both the airbrush and Black Armband History would have told the story of WWII. As I wrote back in 2013 in my introduction to Civilisation, another landmark British TV documentary series produced shortly before The World At War (and equally impossible for the left to make today):
The World At War was made at the perfect time — television documentary techniques were sufficiently developed by 1969 when production on the series began to tell the story properly, and it was only a quarter century after WWII concluded, and enough survivors were still around, still sharp, and able to appear on camera. But of equal importance is that it was made before political correctness had sapped the cultural confidence of the West. If the BBC or Thames’ successor network were to remake the The World at War today, it would have a very different tone to it, probably far closer to Oliver Stone’s “Springtime for Hitler and Stalin” Showtime series than the BBC would care to admit.
Also, the interviews and the contemporary non-newsreel footage were shot in color. We take that entirely for granted now, but when the show first went into production, color TV was still a new phenomenon to many English viewers; BBC2 had only begun broadcasting in color in 1967, and BBC1 not until 1969. It’s tough to conceive of something like Monty Python‘s Flying Circus as being shot in black and white, but as late as 1967, its immediate predecessor, a show with the classic title of At Last, the 1948 Show, was a monochrome production.
Of course, the one problem with The World At War is that those who need to see the series the most will likely never watch it: