9.1
307 votes
The World at War

The World at War

ITV 1973

Originally broadcast in 1973 as 26 one-hour programmes, The World at War sets out to tell the story of the Second World War through the testimony of key participants. The result is a unique and unrepeatable event, since many of the eyewitnesses captured on film did not have long left to live. Each hour-long programme is carefully structured to focus on a key theme or campaign, from the rise of Nazi Germany to Hitler's downfall and the onset of the Cold War. There are no academic "talking heads" here to spell out an official version of history; the narration, delivered with wonderful gravitas by Sir Laurence Olivier, is kept to a minimum. The show's great coup was to allow the participants to speak for themselves. Painstaking research in the archives of the Imperial War Museum also unearthed a vast quantity of newsreel footage, including on occasion the cameraman's original raw rushes which present an unvarnished and never-before-seen picture of important events. Carl Davis' impressive score underlines the grand scale of the enterprise.

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The 10 Best Episodes of The World at War

The World at War - S1E24

#1 - The Bomb (February - September 1945)

8.14

Season 1 - Episode 24

Western scientists have developed a new, immensely powerful weapon - the atomic bomb. On August 6th 1945, the Enola Gay delivers the world's first atomic bomb to Hiroshima. The world would be forever altered.

The episode was rated #1 Best episode of The World at War from 105 votes.

The World at War - S1E17

#2 - Morning (June - August 1944)

8.10

Season 1 - Episode 17

The Western Allies resolve to invade Europe. England becomes a floating supply dump and the British and Americans assemble the largest invasion fleet in history. It is June 6th 1944 - D Day.

The episode was rated #2 Best episode of The World at War from 136 votes.

The World at War - S1E20

#3 - Genocide (1941 - 1945)

8.07

Season 1 - Episode 20

The Nazi's are racist; the Aryans are a master race, others, particularly the Jews are sub-human. Himmler's SS sets about ridding Europe of millions of Jews.

The episode was rated #3 Best episode of The World at War from 123 votes.

The World at War - S1E5

#4 - Barbarossa (June - December 1941)

8.03

Season 1 - Episode 5

After dominating southeastern Europe through force or intrigue, Germany begins Operation Barbarossa, the massive invasion of Soviet Union. Despite several quick victories, the invasion ultimately stalls after a failed assault on Moscow during Russia's harsh winter

The episode was rated #4 Best episode of The World at War from 267 votes.

The World at War - S1E16

#5 - Inside the Reich: Germany (1940 - 1944)

7.99

Season 1 - Episode 16

Initial victory in Europe turns sour after the defeat at Stalingrad, yet Germany prepares to fight to the end - even after an assassination attempt on the Führer.

The episode was rated #5 Best episode of The World at War from 139 votes.

The World at War - S1E11

#6 - Red Star: The Soviet Union (1941 - 1943)

7.98

Season 1 - Episode 11

For two years the Soviet Army fights the Germans almost alone. After one of the greatest land battles in history, the nation survives and triumphs - but with a loss of no less than twenty million of its people.

The episode was rated #6 Best episode of The World at War from 147 votes.

The World at War - S1E12

#7 - Whirlwind: Bombing Germany (September 1939 - April 1944)

7.95

Season 1 - Episode 12

Bomber Command begin bombing German cities by night and the Americans reinforce the attacks by day; a whirlwind of terror and destruction that will win the war.

The episode was rated #7 Best episode of The World at War from 150 votes.

The World at War - S1E25

#8 - Reckoning (1945...and after)

7.95

Season 1 - Episode 25

The war ends slowly and messily. Britain is victorious but exhausted and the super-powers confront each other as they decide the fate of Europe.

The episode was rated #8 Best episode of The World at War from 92 votes.

The World at War - S1E3

#9 - France Falls (May - June 1940)

7.91

Season 1 - Episode 3

France discovers it is woefully unprepared for modern warfare as the Nazi war machine easily skirts around the Maginot Line. Britain retreats and prepares for invasion.

The episode was rated #9 Best episode of The World at War from 359 votes.

The World at War - S1E1

#10 - A New Germany (1933 - 1939)

7.89

Season 1 - Episode 1

Germany, a nation stricken by humiliating defeat and emerging from crippling economic depression, looks to one man for a resurgence of hope and dignity. That man is Adolf Hitler…

The episode was rated #10 Best episode of The World at War from 586 votes.

The World at War - S1E7
#11 - On Our Way: U.S.A. (1939 - 1942)
7.89
Season 1 - Episode 7

The opposition by various factions to the United States of America entry into the war, U-boat attacks on Atlantic convoys and America's gradated responses, the mobilization of America after Pearl Harbor, the loss of the Philippines, the Doolittle Raid, Midway and Guadalcanal.

The episode was rated #1 Best episode of The World at War from 219 votes.

The World at War - S1E4
#12 - Alone (May 1940 - May 1941)
7.89
Season 1 - Episode 4

After Dunkirk, Britain faces the German onslaught. Although the RAF wins the Battle of Britain, the cities are blitzed and on the continent the last Allies are conquered. The outlook is grim.

The episode was rated #2 Best episode of The World at War from 301 votes.

The World at War - S1E9
#13 - Stalingrad (June 1942 - February 1943)
7.89
Season 1 - Episode 9

Hitler's early successes in Russia made him reckless and he resolves to capture Stalingrad. The battle lasts six months with the Russians emerging as victors. The Wehrmacht never recovers.

The episode was rated #3 Best episode of The World at War from 187 votes.

The World at War - S1E21
#14 - Nemesis: Germany (February - May 1945)
7.89
Season 1 - Episode 21

Hitler retreats to the Fuhrer bunker is Berlin as Germany crumbles around him and his lieutenants abandon him to a fate of suicide. Meanwhile, the Russians raise the red flag in Berlin.

The episode was rated #4 Best episode of The World at War from 131 votes.

The World at War - S1E8
#15 - The Desert: North Africa (1940 - 1943)
7.88
Season 1 - Episode 8

For 2 years the 8th Army and Rommel's Afrika Corps fight in the wastes of North Africa. Finally the tide turns at El Alamein.

The episode was rated #5 Best episode of The World at War from 212 votes.

The World at War - S1E26
#16 - Remember
7.88
Season 1 - Episode 26

For many the Second World War was the most significant experience of their lives. Heartbreaking first hand remembrances from a vast array of survivors on both sides of the war.

The episode was rated #6 Best episode of The World at War from 73 votes.

The World at War - S1E19
#17 - Pincers (August 1944 - March 1945)
7.86
Season 1 - Episode 19

The end of the war appears close at hand with the liberation of Paris in 1944, but the British and Americans disagree on how to advance. Meanwhile, Poland suffers devastating losses to achieve victory.

The episode was rated #7 Best episode of The World at War from 112 votes.

The World at War - S1E13
#18 - Tough Old Gut: Italy (November 1942 - June 1944)
7.81
Season 1 - Episode 13

Churchill called Italy the 'soft underbelly of the crocodile' and thought the Allies could cut through it to the heart of Germany. But the soft underbelly turned out to be a 'tough old gut'.

The episode was rated #8 Best episode of The World at War from 141 votes.

The World at War - S1E14
#19 - It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow: Burma (1942 - 1944)
7.80
Season 1 - Episode 14

Vera Lynn sang of a lovely day tomorrow, but the war in Burma was mud and monsoon. Britain's largest army learned to master the jungle and fought the Japanese to standstill.

The episode was rated #9 Best episode of The World at War from 139 votes.

The World at War - S1E23
#20 - Pacific (February 1942 - July 1945)
7.79
Season 1 - Episode 23

The Americans fight their way across the Pacific towards Japan and the Philippines. Perhaps the bloodiest campaign of all, each island has to be taken by storm and the Japanese fight to the last man.

The episode was rated #10 Best episode of The World at War from 97 votes.

Last updated: jan 04, 2021

Comments

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Absolute must see to never forget WW2.

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Best documentary series of any kind, ever.

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Amazing, educational series about WWII.

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Deep detailed account on what happened historically during WW2. Produced while we still had a lot of people alive from the war and with their memories of it still intact. Huge and fascinating archive footage from the war that were presented for the first time in this series. Adding to the depth is one of film's biggest personalities giving his voice (Laurence Olivier) who narrated it. Only some newer "hidden secrets" from the war that has been revealed after 1973 is missing - and while gripping stuff it is impossible not to take long breaks between episodes due to it's heavy and sad subject matter as the brain need to process it all.

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I feel like I lived through the WWII. An absolute must see for everyone.

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