Plot: What’s it about?
The Civil War was our bloodiest and most brutal conflict, but we often overlook it since it took place so long ago. But not everyone lets it slip into the past of course and this release marks a terrific chance to learn more about some of the battles, or even just refresh your memory perhaps. This documentary takes a look at four of the bloodiest battles that took place during the war and while we can’t actually witness the battles, the techniques used really bring home the impact these battles had. I am pleased this documentary never chooses sides when discussing these battles, it simply presents the toll the fight took on both sides and such. If you’ve seen other documentaries like this one then you’ll know what to expect, but just in case I’ll give you a general idea. We learn through narrations of historical figures what led up to the battles, the losses involved, and other aspects of the battles and their impacts. The screen shows maps, still photos, and such to bring a visual sense to all of it also and I think that enhances the overall value of the piece. The battle sequences are shown by using recreation footage and I think that works rather well also. In any case, you’ll see the whole picture when it comes to the battles of The Hornets’ Nest At Shiloh, The Bloody Lane At Antietam, The Wheatfield At Gettysburg, and The Tragedy At Cold Harbor.
All right, so now you know this is one of the best documentaries you’ll find on the Civil War, but what about these discs, are they worth the cash? Unless A&E totally dropped the ball on this, the program alone would warrant a purchase so of course it is worth the cash. We can be happy though, since A&E didn’t drop the ball and has delivered a solid version of this documentary onto our beloved format. I am still unsure why A&E avoids dual layered discs so much, but as long as the audio and video don’t suffer, I won’t complain too much. This two disc release comes on two single sided, single layered discs and as such, the price is a little higher than most releases. But don’t let the price tag scare you off, because with this release every penny is earned, trust me. The extras are light, but the audio & video are very good so no harsh comments will be made. I think this is one of the best Civil War documentaries I’ve seen and as such, I can easily recommend this set and whether you rent or purchase, you’ll be glad you did.
Video: How does it look?
Civil War Combat is presented in a full frame transfer, which retains the original aspect ratio of the materials. This piece is made up from several sources and while there is some variance from segment to segment, the overall image is solid and acceptable. The recreation scenes have some flaws, but given the nature of the equipment used it is easy to forgive the small problems. The colors are sharp and bold with no smears in the least, while flesh tones emerge in accurate hues also. The contrast shows no problems either, detail seems high and shadows never become too dark or obscuring at any time. I also found no evidence of compression problems, another superb transfer from the folks at A&E.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc contains a 2.0 stereo track and since this is a documentary release, that track is more than adequate for this material. The sound effects come across in fine form and I had to double check at times to make sure those bullets weren’t coming at me. Just kidding of course, but this is a terrific mix that never falters in the least. The interviews sound very crisp and clean also, as do the narration moments. So, whether you’re on the battlefield or back in the studio, you’ll hear everything loud and clear on this track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains no bonus materials.