|WWII in HD|
|Written by Joe Wood|
WWII in HD debuts in full color on the History Channel on November 15th. Gary Sinise narrates this 10-hour/10-episode series which tells the greater story of the war by focusing on the personal stories of 12 people who lived it (six of whom are still alive). Most footage of WWII that we have seen in the past was captured by motion picture cameraman who were assigned to the Army, Navy, Marines and the Coast Guard, the majority of which was shot in black & white, and some cameramen shot large quantities of color film. We have over the past 10 years seen some color footage in previous programs, including WWII: The Lost Color Archives (2000) and The Color of War (2001), but because 16mm color film from the era offers resolution that comes close to today’s definition of high-definition the producers of this program decided to set out on a world-wide 2-year quest to locate previously unseen footage, much of it had been stored and forgotten, collecting dust in museum archives and private collections. The search yielded over 3,000 hours of new color footage which has now been properly restored, preserved and safe guarded.
As WWII in HD begins we get a quick introduction to the beginning of the war, including how Germany’s march through Europe spans barely a year. You learn that in 1937 the United States had the 17th largest military in the world which was just a bit smaller than the Romanian Army. Yikes! Germany only ever declared war on just one nation—The United States. By the time the US actually enters the war our military had just under 500,000 men enlisted. Not a strong hand to enter a war with.
WWII in HD is told through the stories of 12 Americans who served in the war and represent an array of wartime experiences. You'll hear the story of war reporter Robert Sherrod, as well as Army nurse June Wandrey who served from the beginnings of the war in North Africa to the liberation of the camps in Germany. We meet Shelby Westbrook, a young African American from Toledo, who became a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen; Jimmie Kanaya, the son of Japanese immigrants, who served in the U.S. Army and was imprisoned in Europe; and Jack Werner, a Jewish émigré who escaped from Austria as the Nazi's took over his country and wound up fighting in the Pacific Theater rather than against the man and people he despised, Hitler and the Nazis. Through these in-the-moment stories you will at times marvel about their journeys, experiences and just how in the world they survived. It really does make compelling television.
WWII in HD at times takes a history class approach with the key battles in both theaters of war from Okinawa and Guadalcanal to North Africa to the Allied push into Germany. The narration of the stories of these 12 veterans switch from their being in their own 85-year-old-plus voices to celebrity narrators—such as Rob Lowe, LL Cool Jay, Amy Smart and Ron Livingston (Band of Brothers) just name a few—who lend their voice-over abilities providing the feel of the Vet's voices in the 1940s. Throughout this captivating series you will learn that the war wasn’t just as great as it tends to appear in John Wayne and Charlton Heston movies. Our greatest generation often went into battles totally undermanned, unprepared and unorganized, just like we hear about our military efforts today. But amazingly, through it all we were still able to prevail.
Sure, you can marvel in the technical achievement of locating and restoring this forgotten footage but without their diaries, journals and interviews it would have lost its importance. Tune in and watch.
Click the play symbol to view the trailer for WWII in HD.