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Title: The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:65

Very few instances in American history can bring a tear to my eye quicker than 7:55 A.M. on December 7th, 1941. For those who are a bit younger, Sept 11th, 2001 may ring as the first time they remember the U.S. being attacked, but for many years 1941 was a time that was remembered for many a generation. I personally come from a family that has had family members serving in all of the big American fought wars going back to World War I. My grandfather was a medic in WWII, my great uncle was in Nam, and both of my younger brothers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. With close personal ties to seeing the after effects of what war can inflict upon a human being (my great uncle and my best friend’s father still won’t talk about Vietnam to this day. The haunted look in their eyes is testament enough), I have a hard time watching war movies and truly ENJOYING them as entertainment. The fun is gone and in its place is a sobering reminder that this is serious business. Still, I have a personal fascination with World War II, the holocaust, and the events leading up to that great war, so this was a DVD set that I REALLY wanted to get my mitts on.

“The 75h Anniversary of Pearl Harbor” is actually a 6 episode set of several different documentaries that span from 2001 to 2009 and were aired on The History Channel. While The History Channel has reinvented themselves over the last few decades with dramatizations and reimagining’s of historical events, their best work has always been in the form of their traditional documentaries. This particular set takes six different episodes that focus on a different aspect of that tragic day in 1941. The first one focuses on the people and the general chaos of the situation, being a 60th anniversary documentary in 2001. Going over the emphasis of the USS Arizona and how it became a rallying cry for the U.S. in WWII, and the honoring of the people who died on that day.

The second episode focuses more on the actual attack of that day. Giving interviews with actual survivors of the attack and what they remember about during the incident. I’ve seen a lot of information about Pearl Harbor, but I had actually forgotten that there were SEVERAL warning signs hours before the attack took place. While I love to be as patriotic as possible and have great pride in our military, this was one date that showed how our own pride and incompetence at a few small things cost us one of the biggest defeats we have ever suffered. Especially one on American soil. The stupidity of creating a sitting duck like Pearl Harbor (thank god much of the fleet was out of the harbor that morning), as well as ignoring the warnings of a few radar men who caught wind of it before the attack. The third focuses more on the technology of the Zeroes and the guns used during the attack, and is a much shorter episode, barely spanning 20 minutes.

“What went Down” is actually one of the more interesting episodes of the series, showing the inaccuracies of some of our older historical data on how the USS Arizona went down and tries to recreate the actual events using CGI and re pieced together information. Another one of my favorites is the 5th episode, where the dive teams go down and try to retrieve the old mine sub that was shot down just hours before the actual attack. A sub that if had left unchecked would have made Pearl Harbor an even bigger tragedy. The 6th is actually a bit more “conspiratorial” in nature, showing another disaster that happened on the same day. A little incident that has been covered up and shoved to the side for many years.

This 75th Anniversary honoring of the fateful day in Hawaii is a WELL done documentary. I’m rather picky about the doc’s I watch, and many tend to be overly tedious and dry. Maybe it’s my fascination with the subject matter and the incident itself, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for all 4 hours of runtime. There is a few times where overlapping information occurred (it happens when you’re taking material from multiple documentaries and putting them as a six episode series), but much of the information is well placed and completely heart wrenching to watch the devastation. While I hate watching war movies much of the time, I’m a firm believer in learning from the past and “Pearl Harbor” is one those travesties that is well worth watching or reading about to pray and hope that it is never replicated again.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video :3.5stars:
The 1.33:1 Mpeg2 encoded DVD set (2 DVD-9s) is a bit weak, but that really isn’t the fault of Lionsgate’s encode at all. Much of the documentary footage in the 6 episode series is derived from older video tapes and archival footage of the war, many of which haven’t had the best of preservation techniques applied to them. Naturally how nice the disc look will be totally dependent on the source being used. Old black and white archival footage naturally looks pretty grungy and speckled with print flaws, while the old 2001-2004 documentary footage on hand cameras tends to show combing and other artifacts known to the cameras of that age. Much of the actual INTERVIEW footage that is indoors and controlled in terms of lighting and movement is much nicer looking. Crisp, clean and clear. There’s some macroblocking here and there but with only 2 hours of footage per disc the DVDs are given more than enough room to be compression artifact free for the most part.

Audio :3.5stars:
Much like the video aspect of the disc, the audio is once again dependent on the source material for the level of quality. The overall narration by the differing people, as well as the interview scenes, show the best vocal clarity and sonic replication. Then there are the bits where someone is outside at the USS Arizona on a windy day where you can hear the whipping wind cutting across the microphones, or the archival footage where you Here Roosevelt’s voice making a speech amidst the crackling and popping of the recording devices used back then. A bit of a mixed back, Lionsgate does a good job at splicing together all these differing sources and differing volume levels in a fairly even display that makes listening to the 2.0 Dolby Digital track much easier.


• "Nothing"

Overall: :3.5stars:

“The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor” is a great conglomeration of 6 different smaller documentary pieces into one nice 2 disc set to enjoy. While I would have loved a DVD of the material, I can easily see why it was put on DVD (especially with the compromised video and audio sources used for the set). Its heart wrenching to watch one of America’s greatest tragedies unfold on screen, especially if you come from a family heavily involved in the military such as mine. The History Channel has done a great job with this six part miniseries and I’m glad to finally get all 6 of these little doc’s that I remember catching pieces of on the TV over the last 15 years. Audio and video are satisfactory considering the source material used, and the information enclosed on the disc is more than worth the lack of extras. Recommended for sure.

Additional Information:

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 245 minutes
DVD Release Date: October 18th

Buy 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor DVD on Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended

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