Encounter with wars

telly review

A nation divided by trenches, soldiers in a bid to kill anyone who comes in sight, inching close to their own death, the stench of dead bodies of their comrades, toxic gases filling the trenches, machines that threaten to obliterate an entire troop and the impending sense of doom — this is just a small visual of one of the battles in World Wars (I & II).

The World Wars are etched in our minds forever — the spark of the wars, the casualties, and their far-reaching effects... 

World Wars is a three-episode series covering the years of World War I and II in a continuous frame of time. Airing on History channel, this series is an attempt by Stephen David Productions to showcase the gory 30 years, from 1914-1945.

Narrated by two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, the show looks at the wars from the perspectives of some of the most important leaders and players of the battle  — Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Roosevelt, Churchill, Patton and Tojo. As the tagline of the show goes, “Before history knew their names, they fought their own battles. World War I: The world changed them. World War II: They changed the world,” these key players shaped the entire scenario and left a blood-soaked history for us to remember.

Utilising the wonderful effects of CGI (computer-generated imagery), the show recreates the battle scenes keeping in mind every tiny detail. Each episode airs archived images, artificially-simulated battles, actors playing the roles of leaders and soldiers, and anecdotes from noted politicians and historians from across the world. The makers have got Colin Powell (former United States Secretary of State), John McCain (US senator), Max Hastings (British journalist) and retired army generals on board to decode the intricacies of the wars, and the reasons and decisions behind them. Striking soundtracks from ‘Two steps from Hell’, which has given music to successful films and TV shows like Pirates of the Caribbean and Breaking Bad,  complement the narration beautifully. It is risky to bring together all the pieces of the wars spread across 30 years in a three-episode series. But the makers have managed to touch every aspect of them, and have avoided intricate details.

A small event of an heir getting assassinated leads to the formation of alliances and ultimately, the war confounds everyone even today! Hitler was just another struggling artist trying to make ends meet. Dire conditions force him to fight for his country. In what can be called a close shave, he was almost killed by a British general, but survived, thanks to the bullet that never left its barrel.

Winston Churchill was a rising politician with strong people skills and a charming personality. But, he soon became the ridicule of his nation when his ambitious plan of supplying arms to Russia by surpassing the Germans failed. With the blood of thousands of soldiers on his hands, he set out to the frontiers to gain redemption. These were the people who led a normal life until World War I happened and changed them inside out. Tapping into their own repository of war experience, these leaders were again battling with their old fallacies disguised in a new avatar during the Second World War.

The World Wars have changed the course of history and have numerous lessons of courage, violence, sacrifice and betrayal ingrained in them. War crimes, nuclear bombs, crumbling and emerging superpowers and the horrific death count have been presented in a concise manner. World Wars, a brief approach to the violent days, is worth a watch as you get to experience an important piece of 20th-century history. Follow the show World Wars from Monday to Saturday at 9 am, from August 18, on History TV 18.

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