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The Great Commanders: The Collection cover photo

The Great Commanders: The Collection 1993, 2013


Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 71 Stevenson St. Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94105; 415-447-9750
Produced by Seventh Art Productions
Directed by Phil Grabsky
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Military, World History

Date Entered: 09/05/2013

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This was a series originally produced for British television in 1993 and concerns six great military commanders from history and the distinctive qualities each had that made them great. In order of presentation on the DVDs they are: Alexander the Great and the Battle of Issus (333 BC), Julius Caesar and the Battle of Alesia (52 BC), Napoleon Bonaparte and the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), Horatio Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar(1805), Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle of the Wilderness (1864), and Georgij Zhukov and the Battle of Berlin (1945). The common theme is that all of these commanders had a charisma about them and were able to see the “big picture” – not just purely “military” matters but political and economic aspects as well. Each episode gives a brief biography of each commander as well as the culture in which he lived, then sets the stage for the battle, followed by a narrative of what occurred during the battle, as well as the results. We see the usual format talking heads interspersed with shots of the countryside and artistic depictions of the events or persons being discussed. The late David G. Chandler of Sandhurst is one of several historians and (then) active duty officers who give commentary throughout. One bonus in the episode on Zhukov is commentary by two of his daughters. The only two criticisms are that the entire production has the look of a VHS transfer and that the clothing and hair styles may seem a bit dated to some. Still, all of this is most fascinating and aside from a very few factual errors (the Zhukov episode states that the Soviet offensive towards Warsaw began in March of 1944 rather than in June) will doubtless please military history buffs.

Recommended for all age groups and audiences.