It looks like we shall get an onslaught of documentaries relating to the Great War over the next four years.
Each one of them will have us believe that us ordinary mortals have been brainwashed by the writers of Blackadder goes Forth that the war was futile.
To the uninitiated, Blackadder was a comedy show where the last episode of each series ended in a blood bath. The writers of the show knowing some of the veterans of the war were still alive decided to go for a more poignant conclusion.
No history was rewritten. You know that from the poetry written by actual soldiers who fought in the war.
Jeremy Paxman is the first out of the blocks with his part polemic take on the Great War. Little is said about the causes of the war apart from a sentence: 'The Kaiser wants to invade Russia and France and hasn't responded to Britain's 11-00 pm deadline.'
Paxman does not give us an in depth analysis of each battle of the war, the slaughter, trench warfare or even inform us as to why many people thought it would be all over by Christmas.
Paxman refuses to enter the argument that other historians have made that the Generals knew the war was going to be only won by sacrificing thousands and thousands of men in the battle field.
What we get is a bite size history lesson digestible to a BBC1 audience of a human take on the war. We see how ordinary people were affected by the war, how many volunteered to fight, how the propaganda machine was cranked up so people would join up.
We do hear stories of the war being fought in the trenches, the social and economic effect the war had in British society during and after the war. We see the heart rendering development of modern plastic surgery as disfigured soldiers are made to look more palatable.
In the final episode we see a funeral service of some soldiers found in a foreign field and we see Paxman talking to their relatives who convey how real the war is to them even a hundred years later as a circle is closed.
It is a contextual history series, some of the stories were offbeat or felt inconsequential. I am sure it not the final word on the subject.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this