PBS deploys its cameras to the battlefield, taking viewers on a thousand-year journey through the history of warfare in Ground War: The Evolution of the Battlefield, an intriguing new documentary co-directed by Roger Finnigan and James Millar that explores key technological advances that have shaped ground combat through the ages.
From the gladius to the AK-47, from the chariot to the tank, from trebuchets to the howitzer, and from the battle ramp to the star fort, Ground War follows the fascinating punch and counter-punch of battle tactics and new technologies. Narrated by R.J. Alison, the film is a meticulously researched four-hour production that imparts intriguing facts and anecdotes throughout, and doesn’t merely attempt to overwhelm its audience with a surfeit of brawny “cool” and firepower. With classic examples like the stirrup and lesser known innovations like the gunner’s quadrant, the series reveals how even the smallest battlefield innovations — and not just missiles that wipe out entire
buildings — can have a wide-ranging effect on the way wars are fought. Four individual episodes explore the development of the soldier and his weapons in “Warrior Weapons,” movement in the combat zone in “Battlefield Mobility,” the evolution of artillery in “Firepower,” and battlefield engineering in “Command and Control.” Regardless of what one thinks about why humans, and particularly Americans, fight so much, this is a solid nonfiction look at the nitty-gritty particulars of the industry of military, and its advances.
Ground War comes to DVD housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, presented in anamorphic widescreen, with an English language stereo audio track. There are unfortunately no supplemental bonus materials, but the depth and breadth of the feature presentation easily offsets this emptiness. To purchase the DVD, phone (800) PLAY-PBS, or simply click here. If Amazon is your online retailer of choice, meanwhile, click here. B+ (Movie) D (Disc)