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Ghost Canyon

'The First World War: The War to End All Wars'
(5-DVD / NR / 2015 / Eagle Media)

Overview: Through fascinating and at times shocking archive footage the programs in this special edition 5-DVD box set tells the stark story of the First World War, which even 100 years later remains a visceral notional memory.

DVD Verdict: Raging for over four years across the tortured landscapes of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the First World War changed the face of warfare forever. Characterized by slow, costly advances and fierce attrition, the great battles of the Somme, Verdun and Ypres incurred human loss on a scale never previously imagined.

'The First World War: The War to End All Wars', this incredible, if not graphically sorrowful at times, 5-Disc DVD box set covers the fighting on all fronts: from Flanders to Tannenberg and from Italy to Palestine. A series of moving narrative along with the journals of men left behind bring to life the experiences of soldiers and civilians caught up in the war.

The first disc is THE GREAT WAR: The full industrial might of the nation states backed millions of fighting men in a war which saw casualty figures on a colossal scale beyond any previous experience. As well as he slaughter in the trenches the whole fabric of society was caught up in a process which destroyed almost an entire generation of young men, gave anew level of freedom and respect to women, and led directly to the birth of modern Europe.

The second disc is MONS 1914 / GALLIPOLI 1915: The Battle of Mons, fought in late August 1914 is remembered for the outnumbered British side inflicting heavy casualties to the Germans, before being forced into retreat. The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 was an attempt by the Allies to open a new front against the Ottoman Empire, allied with Germany & Austria. and to secure the passage of the Dardanelles to gain access to Russia.

The third disc is THE SOMME 1916 / VERDUN 1916: Fought between July ad November 916, the Battle of the Some is possibly the most famous of all the World War One battles and certainly one of the largest with over a million men killed or wounded by its conclusion. The first day remains the worst day in the history of the British Army with around 60,000 casualties sustained. The Battle of Verdun from February to November 1916 began with a German offensive against the French defenses around the town of Verdun. Their plan was to suck the French into a battle that would inflict such serious casualties that the French Army would never fully recover.

The fourth disc is CAMBRAI 1917 / KAISERSCHLACT 1918: The Battle of Cambrai in late 1917 saw the first larges scale deployment of tanks as a tactical weapon. Their success was limited but they paved the way for further development and the domination of tanks n the battlefield for the rest of the century. Kaiserschlact or Kaiser's battle, the German spring offensive in 1918, was the last significant German offensive of World War One. It saw the first major deployment of Stormtropper units on the Western Front and their innovative tactics led to the breaking of the trench war stalemate for the first time in four years.

The fifth and final disc is THE LEGEND OF THE RED BARON / GREAT GERMAN AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR ONE: Manfred Von Richthofen, the Red Baron, was the greatest fighter ace of World War One and perhaps, the most famous fighter pilot of all time. Credited with 80 air combat victories, he was a brilliant tactician and led his "Flying Circus" to unparallelled success being shot down and killed in April 118 at the age of just 25.

From concept through to design, construction and deployment, Great German Aircraft of World War One explores the stories behind the famous German fighters and bombers of the First World War. Illustrious names such as Fokker, Junkers, Halberstadt, Gotha and Albatross all developed and built aircraft and were constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the Allied air forces.

One of the stand out sections for me is characterized by the slow, costly advances and fierce attrition, that the great battles of the Somme, Verdun and Ypres gave us. Incurring human loss on a scale never previously imagined, 'The First World War: The War to End All Wars' is not intended to provide definitive answers and unassailable opinions about 1914-1918. Moreover, what it does do is to provide a glorious overview, in succinct DVD chapters, of some strong evidence which must surely influence our opinions thereafter, Of course.

That said, 'The First World War: The War to End All Wars' is a gloriously concise yet, highly charged, beyond emotional general history of WWI, an event that was the most important event of the 20th century. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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