8.2/10
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6 user

1914-1918 

The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century (original title)
A unique first-person narrative, sewn together from genuine testimonies of frontline soldiers.
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1  
1996  
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Judi Dench ...  Narrator 8 episodes, 1996
Salome Jens ...  Narrator (U.S.A Verison) 8 episodes, 1996
Jürgen Prochnow ...  Kaiser Wilhelm II 5 episodes, 1996
Michael York ...  Harold Owen / ... 5 episodes, 1996
Tim Pigott-Smith 4 episodes, 1996
Ian Richardson ...  David Lloyd George / ... 4 episodes, 1996
Natasha Richardson ...  Vera Brittain 4 episodes, 1996
Jay Winter Jay Winter ...  Himself 4 episodes, 1996
Rene Auberjonois ...  Jean Jaures / ... 3 episodes, 1996
Leslie Caron ...  Czarina Aleksandra Romanov 3 episodes, 1996
Ralph Fiennes ...  Wilfred Owen 3 episodes, 1996
Rupert Graves 3 episodes, 1996
Jeremy Irons ...  Siegfried Sassoon 3 episodes, 1996
David Keith ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1996
Jeroen Krabbé 3 episodes, 1996
Martin Landau ...  Woodrow Wilson 3 episodes, 1996
Malcolm McDowell ...  Charles Stockwell / ... 3 episodes, 1996
Liam Neeson ...  Adolf Hitler / ... 3 episodes, 1996
Kai Wulff ...  Franz Blumenfeldt 3 episodes, 1996
Helena Bonham Carter ...  Vera Brittain 2 episodes, 1996
David Hayter 2 episodes, 1996
Allan Hendrick Allan Hendrick 2 episodes, 1996
Udo Kier ...  Armin Wegner / ... 2 episodes, 1996
Paul Mercurio ...  Cyril Lawrence 2 episodes, 1996
Helen Mirren ...  Margaret Randa / ... 2 episodes, 1996
Marion Ross ...  Kathe Kollwitz 2 episodes, 1996
Fredrich Solms Fredrich Solms 2 episodes, 1996
Norman Stone Norman Stone ...  Himself 2 episodes, 1996
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Storyline

A unique first-person narrative, sewn together from genuine testimonies of frontline soldiers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

1914-1918 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Follows The Roaring Twenties (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Really Well Made Documentary On World War One
10 July 2005 | by gerrythreeSee all my reviews

In going through my decaying collection of videotapes, looking to dispose of as many space-hogging VHS tapes as I can, I came across the VHS tapes I made of The Great War, when the PBS National feed broadcast it on Saturdays in July 2000. Technically great, this four part documentary series looks at World War One through the writings of eyewitnesses and the use of rarely seen film footage (probably from the Imperial War Museum's film archives). In the prologue to the closing episode, War Without End, the narrator reads excerpts from journalist's Stephen Graham's report after touring the battlefields of Europe in 1920. He described the goals of the soldiers from the different warring nations, one goal he said was "a victory for humanity," all ended by what happened at Versailles. Then, Graham wrote that it was "night again in human history, deep night" with a "succession of phantoms stalking" Europe. Recent events, including the bombings in London, show that Graham's stalking phantoms are still with us.

This series makes harsh judgments of many of the protagonists in the war and it does not gloss over the horrors of the war. Footage of a line of soldiers on crutches or using canes, all missing legs, is not the sort of unsettling stuff you usually see in a documentary. The effort that went into this production has had no effect on PBS, which has not rebroadcast the series since 2000 and has let the series VHS 4 tape set(list priced at a high $100.00) go out of print. The website for this series seems to be active, so maybe PBS will license out The Great War for a DVD release. With some effort and using plenty of my time, I transferred my VHS tapes of the series to DVDR. The political climate at PBS now militates against that group of bureaucrats re-releasing an anti-war documentary, even one as well done as 1996's The Great War. If PBS ever shows this documentary series again, it is recommended viewing, though is can be depressing at times describing the horrors of World War One and the incompetence of the government and military leaders then.

--- 28November2008: A British bittorrent index site, UKNova, has for few days more the UK version of this series, 1914-18, in XviD file format. As a member, I downloaded the files. BBC4 showed this series as part of its programming for Ninety Years of Remembrance 1914-1918. Someone transcoded six of the seven parts of this series from these broadcasts, and uploaded them to UKNova. The final episode, Legacy, came from a previous broadcast on UKTV history channel. The Legacy episode upload of the BBC4 version got lost in cyberspace. Having gone through some of the broadcasts, my opinion is that Salome Jens did a much better job as narrator than Judi Dench. Jens' commentary did not attract attention to itself, it sounded like an observer, not a teacher. In addition, the KCET version ended better with two episodes, Hatred and Hunger (E07) and War Without End (E08), not one episode as the BBC did, with Legacy (E07). If Walt Disney can finally release Dr. Syn on DVD, then maybe KCET can pony up the money from contributors to get The Great War on DVD. A grim documentary series on dark events in the world, something we are all too familiar with.


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