The War File-Tank Battles: El Alamein to the Volga

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Released 22-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 53:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Campbell
Rajon Music Group
Rajon Vision
Starring Patrick Allen
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This documentary covers armoured warfare during World War II. It touches on the invasion of Poland and France, but the main focus is on the battle for North Africa, and the German offensive on Kursk. The entire documentary consists solely of real wartime footage.

    The documentary starts with the German defeat at Stalingrad to set the scene for the later discussion on Kursk. It then covers the blitzkrieg tactics that were used so successfully at the start of the war. This in turn sets the scene for North Africa, where the British are able to counter German tactics.

    The North African campaign is covered starting with the success of O’Connor against the Italians. It then shows how Rommel turned the tables in North Africa when he landed with German Panzers. Montgomery is then introduced, and the battle at El Alamein is covered.

    The Russian campaign is covered starting with the preparation for Kursk, followed by a day by day account of the conflict culminating with the battle at Prokhorovka, which involved more tanks than any other battle in history. Some coverage is given of the Russian T-34 tank, as well as the three "super tanks" the Germans were deploying at Kursk – the Tiger, the Panther and the Elephant.

    I question some of the accuracy of the commentary. For example, they state that the German Panzers were better armoured than the British tanks in North Africa, which is incorrect and conflicts with their earlier statement indicating that the Axis forces had trouble against the Matilda’s thick armour. They also state that tank losses on both sides at Kursk were roughly even, where all recent accounts indicate that the Soviets lost at least four times as many tanks.

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Transfer Quality


    There is a warning on the back of the case – "The use of genuine wartime imagery will not produce the visual quality expected of modern technology". Oh, oh! How bad is this going to be?

    The quality of the footage used varies quite a bit. Obviously, none of it is perfect. The good bits are quite clear, and the really bad bits are fortunately quite short.

    There are film artefacts throughout the entire documentary. In the best of the footage, these are only a small blemish. In the worst parts, there are more artefacts than picture.

    The transfer also suffers from a lot of MPEG errors. A high bitrate is used, but since the source material suffers from a very high degree of noise the compression algorithm is unable to cope.

    The end result is a picture that is still watchable, and the better footage is comparable to footage used in other war documentaries. The inferior footage is probably the result of scraping the bottom of the barrel when trying to find 54 minutes worth of relevant war footage.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track, which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 kbps.

    The audio gets off to a bad start with lots of hiss during the opening title. Don’t panic, because the rest of the DVD is quite clear.

    The narrator’s voice is clear. There is only limited real wartime audio, which is kept low in the sound mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There only appears to be one version of this disc for the whole world.


    There is lots of real war footage and there are portions of the commentary that are reasonably interesting. The video quality can get pretty bad at times, but this is not unexpected given the material.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Brumby (read my bio)
Friday, February 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1300Y, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE500 Widescreen High Definition Projector onto a 102" screen. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V800
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 Front, Aaron CC-240 Centre, Aaron SS-240 Rear, Yamaha YST-SW320 Sub

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