War Zone: Paris to the Rhine
Eagle Rock Entertainment // Unrated // $9.97 // August 21, 2007
Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted September 9, 2007
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Graphical Version
The Movie:
This second in a trilogy of films crafted by the British Ministry of Information (others reviewed separately) to celebrate the winning of WWII concentrates on the push from the liberation of Paris to the final arrival at the Rhine, with the fall of Berlin imminent. From our 60 year vantage point, a lot of people have forgotten that once D-Day was accomplished, it was no cakewalk to advance slowly but surely toward Germany in order to secure an ultimate victory. In fact, we almost failed. More than once.

The biggest hangup in the beginning was a decent supply route, and chief amongst those supplies was fuel. This vintage documentary aptly points up the drama of an advancing army brought to a screeching (or perhaps sputtering) halt by the lack of petrol. Miles of sub-ocean piping was laid to supply the continent with fuel pumped directly from England. One crisis averted, but at the cost of renewed German strength.

Though the outcome of the conflict is a foregone conclusion, this second installment actually has a bit of drama going for it, including some missteps by Eisenhower, as well as the unintentionally (at the time, anyway) foreboding presence of the encroaching Red armies from the East, seen in history's hindsight as setting us up for another war of a chillier variety.

The DVD

Video:
The source elements on this installment are in noticeably better condition than the first. Don't expect pristine images--these are 60-plus year old films only recently unearthed from the Imperial War Museum in London. The 1.33:1 image shows more than occasional damage, with scratching, artifacts and washout.

Sound:
As with the first installment, the soundtrack is in surprisingly good shape, with clear voice-over and an omnipresent orchestral underscore.

Extras:
Another beautiful CD of Churchill speeches is included, amongst them "This Was Their Finest Hour," one of the Prime Minister's most justly celebrated broadcasts.

Final Thoughts:
As with the first volume, this would be a great stocking stuffer for that WWII vet grandpa or great-grandpa. Students will also find it worthwhile, while the general public will probably want to rent it if interested in the subject.



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