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War and Remembrance


Roger Davidson

"The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance." - Herman Wouk

The thrilling sequel to The Winds of War, Herman Wouk adapted from his own novel, which is a story that is better in many ways than it's predecessor. The years focused here are the truly turbulent ones of 1941-1945. America is now at war with Nazi Germany and Japan. Robert Mitchum returns as navy man Victor "Pug" Henry, who with his family is not only in the thick of the war, but is also helping make history during the war. He still seems to have eyes for Pamala (Victoria Tennent), while his relationship with Rhoda (Polly Bergen) appears to be falling apart. But this soap opera is minor, compared to the trials and tribulations of Mitchum's son Byron (Hart Bochner), Bochner's wife Natalie Jastrow Henry (Jane Seymour), Seymour's uncle Aaron Jastrow (John Gielgud) and her son Louis. Bochner is a submarine officer in the Pacific, constantly dodging enemy ships.

Seymour's journey is ultimately more horrifying, as she is caught in Europe just as Hitler's plan for a "Final Solution" of the Jewish question is getting geared up. We enter the brutal worlds of Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps, and the dreaded "Paradise Ghetto" Theresienstadt. The scenes in the camps are filmed with such unflinching realism, it becomes frightening. As in The Winds of War, the plot also focuses from time to time on the inside of the Third Reich, which now appears to be crumbling. Adolf Hitler (Steven Berkoff) is falling apart with his dying empire, as the tides turn in Stalingrad, El Alamein, Italy and Normandy. The Pacific battles are also featured prominently, such as Midway, Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf, and the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima. The horrors will eventually end and the various characters will reunite, and attempt to piece their lives back together. But the message of the story (as commented by the character "Pug" Henry later in the series) still remains in our minds long after we've finished watching it. "Either war is finished or we are".

More glorious than any miniseries before it, this could possibly be one of the last of it's great kind on Television. The performances are awesome. Mitchum is great once again in the lead role, but this time, it's the passionate, heartfelt acting by Gielgud and Seymour that really hold your attention. Their acting is so good, they will have you reaching for the Kleenex by the end of the series. The acting ensemble in general is wonderful. Berkoff gives a most memorable portrait of a truly menacing Hitler. The battle scenes are gloriously produced, while the concentration camp sequences send chills up your spine. This makes all the made-for-TV tripe that's come out in the 1990's look absolutely banal by comparison.

My Rating = Four Stars

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