The Blitz-London's Firestorm (2005)

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Released 2-Mar-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 101:29 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Louise Osmond
Jim Spencer
Julian Ware
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Christopher Fox
Abigail Davies
Gerrard McArthur
Matthew Day
Sally Leonard
Sebastian Harcombe
Simon Armstrong
Cathy Murphy
Tracey Murphy
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music David Hewson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† The Battle of Britain began in July 1940 and continued until September of that year. Towards the end of the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe turned their attention from RAF airfields towards strategic targets, like aircraft factories and dockyards. During one such raid on the 24th August 1940 German aircraft strayed over London and released their bombs. The British retaliated by bombing Berlin the following night, which acted as a trigger for the Luftwaffe to attack British cities day and night.

††† The 29th of December 1940 was a terrible night that would be remembered as ďThe Second Great Fire of LondonĒ. On that night 136 Luftwaffe planes dropped 24,000 incendiary devices and 120 tonnes of high explosives, resulting in the deaths of 163 people and the destruction of most of the buildings within one square mile around St Paulís Cathedral, the main target of the raid.

††† Narrated by Dilly Barlow, The Blitz: Londonís Firestorm is a 2 part series that looks at the events of that terrible night. Based on written records and eyewitness accounts this is the story of just one night of the London Blitz.

††† The Dean of St Paulís, Walter Matthews (Gerrard McArthur), was in charge of the fire wardens assigned to protect the Cathedral from the nightly bombing raids. While its impressive 140-foot dome might look like it is fashioned from stone it is actually a lead covered wooden frame and therefore susceptible to fire.

††† On the night of the 29th of December 1940, Hitler targeted St Paulís Cathedral in an attempt to reduce English morale. This fact was well understood by Churchill who ordered all resources to concentrate on saving St Paulís, at the expense of the surrounding buildings.

††† By Christmas 1940 many of the children were already evacuated from London. Ann Regan, who was 5 at the time, recounts the story of her father Bill Regan (Christopher Fox) and mother Vi (Abigail Davies). Bill was a rescue worker who kept a diary of his experiences as a means of dealing with everyday life during the blitz.

††† Fred (Simon Armstrong) and Ethel Feldon (Cathy Murphy) sheltered in a government constructed brick and concrete bomb shelter with their three youngest children. The bomb shelters were designed to stop a bombís blast, not withstand a direct hit, which is what happened that night. Their eldest son, Sid Feldon, was stationed at a nearby Army Barracks that night and he recounts his experience.

††† Other eyewitness accounts come from American war reporter William White (Matthew Day), and wartime Fire Wardens Richard Holsgrove and George Wheeler.

††† Instead of covering the broader history of the blitz with hard facts and a documentary style format, The Blitz: Londonís Firestorm uses dramatisation to present a personal account of this one night.

††† One fact that surprised me was the way the rescue workers, fire fighters, reporters and film crews would risk their lives while the bombs were falling. Even more surprising was the fact that public transport would continue to operate - at the discretion of the driver.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The video transfer is very good.

††† The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

††† The image is sharp and the shadow detail is good, except for some of the CGI work which in contrast appears soft.

††† With so many scenes depicting London burning by night, oranges and reds dominate the colour spectrum. Skin colours look natural.

††† The transfer is very good and the only MPEG artefact I saw was some posterization on St Paulís Cathedral in Part 2, at 30:11. Likewise, the film-to-video artefacts are kept to an absolute minimum and I only noticed some minor aliasing in Part 2, at 43:16. The archival footage is grainy and contains scratches, though this is both understandable and expected.

††† The only subtitle stream is English for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles are well placed and easy to read. They accurately reflect the spoken word and contain an appropriate amount of cues for the hearing impaired.

††† This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 49:35, between parts 1 and 2.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† The audio transfer is very good.

††† The only audio track available is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s).

††† The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. Unfortunately the audio sync was noticeably out during the interviews.

††† David Hewson provides a musical score that is quite haunting and leaves an impression on the viewer.

††† This is a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track so the surround channels and subwoofer are not utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

††† The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track but it is not animated.

R4 vs R1

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

††† The Region 1 release of this DVD is titled The Blitz: London's Longest Night and it appears to be identical to the Region 4 version of The Blitz: Londonís Firestorm in every aspect.

Summary

††† The Blitz: Londonís Firestorm provides an in depth look at the events that took place on the 29th of December 1940, ďThe Second Great Fire of LondonĒ. Although I would have liked to see more information about the blitz and the events leading up to the blitz, The Blitz: Londonís Firestorm is a quality production that recreates the terrible events of that night using better than average dramatisation.

††† The video transfer is very good.

††† The audio transfer is very good.

††† There are no extras on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Aaron Devereaux (read my bio)
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using Component output
DisplayInFocus Screenplay 7200 with ScreenTechnics 100" (16x9) screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to Amplifier. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC -A11SR
SpeakersJamo D6PEX wall mounted Speakers and Powered Sub (7.1)

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