By Nickie Wang
There have been many stories about the Second World War. Some of them were told in moving novels, others were made into compelling feature films, and some historical accounts were retold in documentaries, and all of them had a vivid description of the brutal nature of a war.
When we talk about WW II, black and white videos are always associated with this significant yet dark moment of history. But little did we know that the Germans, the Americans, and even the British were already filming important events during these horrible days using color films, and yes it was extremely expensive back then.
Most of these videos, chronicling people in the military fighting in the actual war and countless number of civilians becoming part of the casualties, were kept in different archives around the globe, some in the Library of Congress, and some are just stored in the backyard of some war veterans.
To recover these footages is already a painstaking and challenging task, hence making WWII Lost Films a landmark series on television.
History (formerly History Channel) conducted a two-year worldwide search through archives and basement to locate lost films taken during the WW II period. What the channel recovered are journals and diaries that chronicle firsthand experiences of eyewitnesses of the Second World War. The channel also recovered 3,000 hours of genuine and unedited videos in full color.
This month of May on History, international audience will be brought to an unforgettable virtual trip to the world history seven decades back.
The series transforms the public knowledge of World War II by illuminating it up close and in original color. More than just a war documentary, WW II Lost Films allows viewers to see the conflicts unfold through the eyes of 12 soldiers who fought and charted their personal journeys while dealing with the conditions and chaos of the war.
“What we have here is a huge budget film told in the very same passion. Most World War II documentaries are presented by a third person point of view, but what we have here are people who went to the war, they are the ones who tell the story,” says Louis Boswell, general manager of AETN All Asia Network (History, The Biography Channel, History HD, and Crime and Investigation Network).
Bringing the documentary to life are the voices behind the scene, masterfully provided by prominent names in Hollywood. The series is narrated by Emmy Award winner Gary Sinise, and the 12 soldiers are voiced by personalities like Justin Bartha, Rod Corddry, Tim DeKay, Mark Hefti, James Kyson Kee, Ron Livingston, LL Cool J, Rob Lowe, Josh Lucas, Jason Ritter, Amy Smart, and Steve Zahn.
During the special preview of WW II Lost Films held at Greenbelt 3’s MyCinema, Boswell explained the rationale behind the series. Apart from educating its audience, WW II Lost Films is part of the channel’s effort to restore and digitized old war films.
“And because the footages we gathered are in film, they can be converted into high definition,” Boswell adds.
Originally in 16 mm film, the recovered footages were restored to pristine condition through advanced HD technology to amplify the colors and seamlessly blended the films with an explosively resonating 5.1 Dolby sounds to create an experience that is clearer and more immediate than anything ever before seen on World War II. The films were re-recorded using the state-of-the-art Red camera.
A focus on the Philippines
In an interview with AETN All Asia Network marketing director Rosanne Lo, she said that the 10-part series has a special episode dedicated to the Philippines . The ninth episode highlights the events that took place in Corregidor and Bataan, and how the thought that there were 1.7 million Filipinos who died during the period shaped the mentality of the next generations.
“Filipinos play an important role in the history of WW II and one of the reasons why there’s a special focus on the Philippines is because of the audience. Philippines is one of the focus market because of the number of English-speaking viewers here,” Lo says.
WW II Lost Films airs Tuesdays with two episodes per week. History is available on SkyCable (channel 153), Cablelink (44), Dream (27), Destiny Cable (56), and Colorview CATV (25).