It’s a growing trend and a source of fascination for history buffs. Seeing footage of historic eras and events that we’re used to seeing only in black and white, but in color, or upgraded to HD. And, as fate would have it, some of the films built around this footage have been vivid and excellent regardless of the color factor. Documentaries about the Russian Revolution and, more recently, World War II featuring color and colorized images bring an immediacy to events that usually seem distant in part because of the antiquated media on which they often were captured. To that end, Military Channel follows up its successful World War II in Color with the even more unlikely World War I in Colour this Monday, April 9.
Hosted by Academy Award-nominated actor and director Kenneth Branagh, World War I in Colour represents the efforts of hundreds of skilled film technicians worldwide who contributed to the restoration and colorization of rare archival footage from Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and the U.S. Featuring interviews with eyewitness survivors, World War I in Colour presents a view of The Great War that has yet to have been seen on television.
This particular series is an acquisition from overseas (which is why you see that “u” in the title), but seeing the slate labeled Season 1 implies that a Season 2 will follow. As such, this may be just the start of an in-depth examination and exploration of one of the most brutal conflicts in human history:
World War I in Colour: “Catastrophe” (April 9 at 10pm ET/PT) The series starts with an overview of the immense commitment of man and material to the fight. In the course of the war, 65 million took up arms. Ten million of them perished while another 20 million were left crippled and scarred emotionally. It was war on a scale that the world had never known until then.
World War I in Colour: “Slaughter in the Trenches” (April 16 at 10pm ET/PT) The second episode gets right into the trenches, examining the bloody stalemate of the Western Front in 1915. Communications between the front lines and the rear echelon were tragically dependent on runners, whose messages often failed to reach their intended destinations due to the couriers inevitably becoming casualties. Two simultaneous assaults by the French and British launched in May 1915 to push back the German forces also are analyzed.
World War I in Colour: “Blood in the Air” (April 23 at 10pm ET/PT) World War I was full of many firsts, and air warfare was far from least among them. Many pilots flew into battle with as little as five hours of flying time, and an average life expectancy of about 11 days. Initially a means of doing reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, an aviation pioneer changed the rules of the game by synchronizing a machine gun with a propellor, giving German pilots an incredible edge on French and British planes.
World War I in Colour: “Killers of the Sea” (April 30 at 10pm ET/PT) Naval warfare in World War I was decidedly less about open confrontation between fleets and more concerned with cutting off supply routes and securing supplies through blockades and sinkings. While the British had the North Sea under control and built up supplies by commandeering goods en route to Germany, the Germans declared open season on merchant vessels.
Photo: Military Channel