Monday, June 14, 2010

Contest - Two WWII Documentaries on DVD

More free stuff this week, and just in time for Father’s Day. A&E Home Entertainment has recently released on DVD two excellent documentaries on the fighting in the Pacific Theater in World War II. Today, we offer these as a two separate contest prizes.

These documentaries are…


…and also…


A description and review of these films is included below. But before we get to that, a few contest rules:

You have from now until Thursday, June 17th at noon Eastern Time to enter the contest for these DVDs. Because these are two different documentaries, I’m going to offer them as two prizes, and pick two winners. To enter the contest, just leave a comment below stating you want to enter the contest. State the title of which you prefer, or just write “either”. If I pick two winners who happen to want the same title, the second one I draw wins the other film by default.

If your name is announced on Thursday as the winner of one of these DVDs, then please email me at: with the name and mailing address where you’d like your prize sent. The name and address will not be published on this blog.

I will contact our good friends at A&E Home Entertainment, and they will mail you your prize.

Now, about those films…

The first, WORLD WAR II: THE WAR IN THE PACIFIC is a two-disc set. The features listed include:

DISC ONE (approx 90 mins)

ISLAND HOPPING: THE ROAD BACK--The epic story of the Allies' island-by-island Pacific campaign, using massive amphibious assaults.

JUNGLE WARFARE: NEW GUINEA TO BURMA--In the steamy jungles of the Pacific, soldiers battled not only the Japanese, but malaria, heat exhaustion, and swarms of parasites.

AIR WAR IN THE PACIFIC--From the war's first days, to the suicidal Kamikaze attacks and the bombing missions that brought the war to the Japanese homeland.

THE BLOODY RIDGES OF PELELIU--From the opening Naval bombardment, to the hand-to-hand combat and vicious guerrilla warfare, this is the complete story of this brutal and historic battle.

DISC TWO (approx 95 min)

THE RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES--From MacArthur's strategy to the heroics of the gound, naval, and air troops, it's a stunning story of unstoppable determination.

OKINAWA...THE LAST BATTLE--Witness the desperate, suicidal resistance of the Japanese in the final battle of the Pacific campaign.

ADMIRAL WILLIAM 'BULL' HALSEY: NAVAL WARRIOR--Sail into battle with one of the most celebrated naval commanders in American history.

“World War II - The War in the Pacific” is hosted and narrated by Patrick O’Neal, and is comprised almost entirely of original battle films shot by the U.S. military, along with what looks like some newsreel film, and possibly some film taken by the Japanese military. Except for Mr. O’Neal’s segments, the rest is in black and white with voice over narration. The episodes of this program were originally put together in 1985 for television. The final segment, a biography of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey was originally shown as part of the program “Biography.”

The second prize, a DVD is also a two-disc set, titled D-DAYS IN THE PACIFIC. “Though most people associate D-Day with the massive invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, a 'D-Day' is actually military term for any amphibious operation, and few theaters during World War II saw as many battles as the waters of the Pacific, where more than 100 D-Days were waged.”

This two-disc set includes the following documentary features:

DISC ONE - 137 min

DEATH AT THE TIDELINE: Follow America's earliest amphibious invasions, including the ill-equipped landing on Guadalcanal.

CLOSING THE JAWS: America's forces gain new expertise and power, and Nimitz and MacArthur have the enemy on the run.

THE FINAL GRAVEYARD: Relive the battles that pierced Japan's defenses and brought the war to a close.

DISC TWO - 139 min

THE BLOODY HILLS OF PELELIU: Incredible combat footage documents one of the deadliest battlegrounds of the Pacific.

BIOGRAPHY: ADMIRAL CHESTER NIMITZ: Discover the story behind the man who turned a shattered fleet into a devastating naval powerhouse.

BIOGRAPHY: GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR: Learn how this fabled General was able to defeat a seemingly unstoppable Japanese war machine.

These episodes were originally from 2005, and the two biography episodes on Admiral Chester Nimitz and on General Douglas MacArthur are from the Biography program on A&E. “D-Days in the Pacific” is also comprised mostly of original footage, some of it is in color. Some of the color footage I believe to actually be “colorized” from the original black and white. This documentary also has interviews with prominent historians and also (now elderly) participants in these battles.

What is most striking about these two documentary DVDs, both “World War II - the War in the Pacific” and “D-Days in the Pacific” is that they are all business, brisk telling of horrific events, including some footage that is difficult to watch for its brutality, but remain engrossing and informative films.

Today, there is a much different style of filmmaking, not just for feature films but also for documentaries, that involves a great deal of splashy graphics and quick cuts. This, I suppose, is meant to add drama to the telling of the story, but which I find inevitably adds only to the “dumbing down” of history. Making the film look like a video arcade game to attract attention is not the same thing as keeping attention. Especially when it becomes really annoying.

The material is dramatic enough. It does not need enhancement with gimmicks which would seem to appeal to 13-year-old boys.

These two films have a slower pace, an honest, matter-of-fact delivery, and leave even those who have some knowledge of the events of the war in the Pacific with greater understanding and appreciation of the cost, and the effort, and the results. For people who have yet to be introduced to the story of how the war was won in the Pacific, either of these films is a great introduction.

If your father or grandfather, mother or grandmother served in the military in the Pacific during World War II, these films contain everything they were never quite able to tell you.

Leave a comment below to enter the contest to win one of these DVDs. Or, get your copy of WORLD WAR II - THE WAR IN THE PACIFIC here. Get your copy of D-DAYS IN THE PACIFIC here.

Special thanks to A&E Home Entertainment for these contest prizes and DVD review copies.


Caftan Woman said...

I was going to say something biting about "just in time for Father's Day", but had to stop when I remembered that I bought a book about Canadian paratroopers for the hubby. I guess WW2 and Father's Day goes together like bagels and cream cheese.

You may consider me entered in the contest if out-of-country doesn't matter. Otherwise, thank you for alerting me to the existence of these films.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Loud ties, too. Father's Day means loud ties, or used to. Now I guess it's more of a T-shirt with witty sayings kind of thing.

Canadians are perfectly okay to enter the contest. I think Canada is swell. I'd stand on guard for thee. And there is no other place on earth from where I'd rather get a "Back Door Canadian Cold Front", as the weather forecasters around here used to say.

Any other folks not in the USA who can play Region 1 DVDs, join right in.

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