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The Century of Warfare (1994) – DVD Review

The Century of Warfare DVD cover art


Produced by Philip Nugus and Jonathan Martin
Narrated by Robert Powell

Released by: The History Channel
Rating: NR (some warfare footage inappropriate for younger audiences)
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Find some wet paint to watch dry instead

The 20th Century saw some amazing changes to the way that we wage war. Needless to say, we became more and more efficient at killing one another regardless of the justification. This documentary focuses on those changes and goes from one major war to another, spanning the globe.

Sadly, this is one of the most boring things I have ever seen. It’s organized very well, but it’s a bit like watching someone’s doctoral thesis in world history. The first episode sets up the rest of the episodes nicely, lining up what we are going to be watching for the next twenty-six hours. It seems to contain every scrap of stock footage from every major battle since WWI and is not shy about showing you every last second of this footage. Powell’s narration is some of the most mind numbingly boring that I’ve ever heard. It’s not just his fault–no, the writing for this documentary is the aural equivalent of an watching houseflies mate.

[ad#longpost]I wish I could say that it got better as the series progressed, but it didn’t. The episodes cover every major war, including WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, The Cold War, the first part of the Gulf War. It details every major advance in warfare: air warfare, naval warfare, chemical and biological warfare, terrorism, and infantry warfare. But there’s one thing blatantly missing: interviews with anyone who might be a scholar about such things as military advancements.

I guess we should be thankful that this is saved on DVD. This is the kind of thing that high school history teachers will force their students to sit through. There are no special features of any kind in this set. Of course, it wouldn’t be worth putting a making-of featurette together would it? If the primary material is that boring, a making of would be like the ninth level of Hell, wouldn’t it? There could have been an interview segment put together for this one. I personally think that it would have been a good idea to add a new episode that covers some of the advancements and changes that have already taken place in the early 21st Century. Since this does deal with something of a historical nature, it might have been nice to put a timeline together for the bonus materials. As it stands, we are only presented with the plain old boring documentary to tide us over.

It’s just a shame this came from the History Channel. Normally, there stuff is really great, but this time it’s just a waste. It would have been really easy to take the primary source material and add in some interviews and other things to break up the monotony, but no–instead you get something that only the hardcore war scholar would want to watch. If you are that interested in this topic, I suggest finding a series that does a better job of presenting the material.

The Century of Warfare

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