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C4: The First World War (2003) – #5/10 – Shackled to a Corpse


Source IMDb

Shackled to a Corpse

The war on the Eastern Front was racial; Slav verses Teuton. It was highly mobile, fought across brutal terrain from the Urais to the Alps. It initiated many horros of twentieth century warfare: chemical weapons, mass expulsions of civilians, the persecution of Jews. The Italian front with Austro-Hungary was perhaps the bitterest of all. Soldiers lived and fought for years in the hardhest environments, enduring avalanches and frost-bite as well as relentless enemy action. Mistrust and contempt increasingly threatened alliances. Germany shored up her ally Austria-Hungary, feeling herself “shackled to a corpse”, which Austria-Hungary saw Germany as her “secret enemy”



The Series ( Wikipedia)

The First World War is a 10-part 2003 Channel 4 TV series based on the book of the same name by Oxford professor Hew Strachan. The series was narrated and produced by Jonathan Lewis and was directed by Corina Sturmer, Marcus Kiggell, and Simon Rockell.


According to International Historic Films:[1]

Universally acclaimed as one of the finest documentary series ever made about the Great War, Channel 4’s The First World War is a powerful, original and truly comprehensive account of the conflict. It places the war in a truly global military context as never before, exploring many of the little-known campaigns, battles, and actions as well as the better-known conflict on the Western Front. The series combines previously unseen footage from newly accessible archives in Central and Eastern Europe with the exclusive film of many of the battlefields as they are today, studies of key participants and weaponry, and diary entries and letters home from soldiers, officers, and commanders.

ABC Australia comments that:[2]

Television has tended to look at the First World War through a veil of tears, seeing only a tragic waste of life in the mud of Flanders. This definitive series strips away ninety years of myopia to get back to the reality of the war… This was a global conflict from the start, involving nations in every continent and people of all classes and races. Using fresh archive footage and specially shot material from authentic locations in 22 countries, the multi-layered series demolishes myths and answers key questions from the origins of the war to its bitter end.

A review by dOc DVD Review states:[3]

This is a beautiful, comprehensive look at World War I. The events and people are relayed in great detail, though it isn’t until the final ten minutes that the documentary takes on a life of its own. As the effects of the war are discussed, from the Treaty of Versailles to the death toll, the most disturbing thing is to see how much good came from this conflict. Democracy began to spread, militarism lessened, the League of Nations was created, oppressed people formed national identities, and foreign aggression was defeated. Yet this war could not resolve the violent underpinnings of human nature. Instead, it gave them new hope, for, as the narration points out, “Its terrible message was that war can effect change. That war can fulfill ambitions. That war can work.”


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