Thursday, November 26, 2009

Apocalypse : The Second World War (2009)

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You have never seen World War II like this.

Thanks to the efforts of a few, private collectors and archivists, these forgotten films have been rediscovered, restored and made available by National Geographic Channel in an extraordinary six-part series: Apocalypse: The Second World War, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of World War II. In addition to stunning footage, the series presents WWII in an innovative and provocative way, giving audiences an unprecedented sense of the reality of war not conveyed by black and white footage but in color.

Detailed Description
As the French evacuated Paris in June 1940, amateur filmmakers documented the exodus as thousands lined the roads with their families and most precious possessions. As the British sifted through the rubble, people grabbed cameras to capture what it meant to stand up to Hitler throughout the Blitz. And as the Nazi army slogged through the mud and snow of Soviet Russia on the way to Moscow, soldiers used 8mm cameras to film the hardships of the war as they experienced it. This was not the stock, newsreel or propaganda footage from World War II that authorities approved and audiences became accustomed to seeing. This was provocative and sometimes disturbing footage taken by those who witnessed the war first-hand. This was the footage deemed ‘unfit’ for civilians to see. At the end of the war, this and other “Top Secret” footage of the war’s destruction was stashed away and forgotten.

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, Apocalypse: The Second World War includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis and the sacrifice of Soviet soldiers at Stalingrad. By bringing this incredible footage together, Apocalypse: The Second World War provides viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of WWII that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

Germany. 1939. When almost nothing seems to stand in his way, and with the USSR as his ally, Hitler invades Poland. Britain and France declare war while the U.S. maintains its neutrality. “The Phoney War” begins as millions of civilians wait to see if the conflict will resolve itself and Germany builds up its arsenal.

France. 1940. The Allied defensive lines are broken by Hitler’s daring sickle cut through the supposedly impenetrable Ardennes forest. British troops hastily evacuate from the beaches at Dunkirk, France, but are forced to abandon kilometres of precious military vehicles and equipment. The French army, once considered the best in the world, is in a shambles as almost two million soldiers are taken prisoner. Within a matter of days, the Germans march into Paris at daybreak.

Episode 3: SHOCK
Prague. Copenhagen. Paris. 1941. The Germans now occupy several capital cities in Europe. After the Germans defeat France, Nazi soldiers are sent to Paris for rest and recreation while Polish prisoners and Jews are forced into slave labour to complete Nazi building projects. The Italian army is in disarray so Hitler dispatches one of his best generals to Libya. The Afrika Korps fry eggs on the surfaces of their tanks amidst the blistering desert sands of North Africa.

Following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt declares war on Japan. The war becomes global.

D-Day in Normandy and Saipan in the Pacific practically on the same day.

A fierce fighting : the bombing of Germany. The Holocaust. V day. War in Pacific. Kamikazes. The Atomic Bomb.

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