I’m kicking off a new personal project today, and I suspect it will be a very long-term piece of work. But it’s not work at all – it’s intended to be purely instructive and interesting … well, to me, at least. Wouldn’t be doing it otherwise!
I’m going to watch all the worthwhile documentaries I can find – and dramatic reconstructions where appropriate – relating to the History of World War II.
I have two primary sources that I’ll be using – The World at War and the BBC History of World War II.
Why, you may ask?
Well, simply, I’m interested. I don’t think any event in the last two centuries has shaped our lives more than World War II, and I want to gain the best understanding of it that I can from these forms of media. My overall knowledge of the war is, I suspect, already pretty reasonable compared to many of my peers and probably better than those younger than me, but there’s always more that can be gleaned. Of course, I could simply read the history books – and in time, I intend to – but we all lead busy lives and I find the TV documentary format (when it’s well done) to be a highly effective and time-efficient medium for presenting information.
In general, I’ll structure my viewing around the World at War episodes – but there’ll be plenty of other stuff thrown in – particularly films and one-off dramas. My intention is that when there is a film or drama relating to a particular aspect of the war, I’ll watch that at the appropriate point in proceedings.
This will be a long project, though. Even finding the time to watch these discs will be a challenge. But actually I think that’s a good thing. I want the time in between to ruminate on it all. World War II was calamitous and unbelievably disruptive to dozens of millions of people across a long period of time – not to mention the 73 million people who lost their lives as a result. The final word of Lawrence Olivier’s narration of The World at War is “Remember”. Well, I wasn’t there – but I want to honour those who died, on all sides of the conflict, with my remembrance.
Everything on this project will be tagged with “History of World War II”. And if any of my friends want to borrow any of the media that I use or collect along the way, you’ll be most welcome.