One miniseries that's as good as the book!
I had a large family at home when the miniseries "War and Remembrance" was first on TV, and still when the History Channel aired it in the 90s, and missed most of the episodes,but the ones I saw, I LOVED.
I read the book in the late 1970s, first in the Readers Digest condensation, then the whole long novel. I consider it the very best novel I ever read, and I have read HUNDREDS of them. So I eagerly awaited the miniseries' release on DVD, and bought it,and it is FANTASTIC!
Even the PACKAGE is high quality,well-designed,obviously made to look good and to last,to organize and protect the DVDs for years to come. It comes complete with 2 discs of additional material,AND a CD of the soundtrack, which was composed just for the miniseries.
The miniseries takes a worldwide look at the Second World War and Holocaust through the eyes and experiences of the European Jewish Jastrow and American Henry families, who were connected by marriage in the previous Herman Wouk novel and miniseries "The Winds of War" (as good as War and Remembrance,actually, in both the book and miniseries).The Holocaust scenes are horrifyingly authentic, right down to the victims being forced to strip naked and go to the gas in full view of SS guards and their dogs,sometimes shown in full frontal nudity,always looking like they know they are going to be killed.Much care was obviously taken throughout to help the viewer feel like they were actually THERE,observing the actual happenings.
The casting was superb.Though I thought that Robert Mitchum was a bit too old and tall to be Pug Henry,who was in his fifties and shorter than his wife,Rhoda, in the novels, Mitchum DID convey his character superbly.The rest of the casting seemed INSPIRED, and the filming was very well done.
The script followed the book very closely. Sometimes the characters added narrative passages from the novel into their dialogue,which made the action flow smoothly.
Hitler was played by an actor who portrays Hitler's insane Jew-hatred and other craziness with an amazing clarity. I have NEVER seen Hitler portrayed so completely, for so long (he lasts almost to the end of the miniseries). You see what Hitler was REALLY like, and begin to understand how STUPID people are who say BUSH was a Hitler. Obviously, they know NOTHING ABOUT Hitler. OR Bush.
Topol was unforgettable as Berel Jastrow,who survived Aushwitz and related horrors,escaped,and rescued little Louis Henry from the Theresienstadt ghetto,and found a safe place for him on a farm, only to be caught and shot near the end of the war, shielding Louis from bullets with his body as he fell.Louis survives to be reunited with his parents, and the rest of the characters have their own terrible dangers and troubles to face,too.
It is also a very good documentary on the war, with extensive WW2 footage I never saw before (and I have seen LOTS of WW2 documentaries).
Because of the nudity and graphic violence (real-looking beatings,gassings,mass shootings,etc.),I would recommend this NOT be watched by young children or those sensitive to such things,but as a real reminder of what the Holocaust and war were actually LIKE,I would recommend it to anyone ELSE.Read full review