With Remembrance Sunday only a few short weeks away, this seems like the perfect time to review two of Network’s most recent releases – one a landmark of British film, the other one of British television’s true jewels in the crown – ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’ and ‘The World at War’.

The old adage is “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”, which is only one of a million very good reasons why ‘The World at War’ should be required viewing for everybody. Originally televised between October 1973 and May 1974 and running for 26 episodes, it was – at that time – the most expensive factual series ever made. That isn’t surprising, considering how comprehensively it covers the events of 1939-1945, although the first episode begins six years earlier, charting Adolf Hitler’s calculated rise to power and watching as his army and air-force slowly and methodically conquered many of the territories bordering Germany, their growing terror seemingly unchecked until the moment Britain officially declared war. From here, the series proceeds chronologically, describing fifteen of World War Two’s major campaigns. Other episodes concentrate on subjects as varied as the rise of the Third Reich, home life in England and Germany, living beneath enemy occupation, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With rare archival footage and eyewitness testimony, ‘The World at War’ is a remarkable achievement. As a historical document, the series is invaluable. As a piece of television, it is a work of art.

Network have released ‘The World at War’ on both bluray and DVD. We reviewed the bluray presentation which is quite handsome, with only the specially filmed interview excerpts (and there are a lot of them) betraying this series as a child of the 70s. The picture is spotless, and Laurence Olivier’s wonderfully nuanced narration is crisp and clear. Both releases also include a wealth of extra features, including eight supplementary documentaries and unseen and extended interviews.

This has got to be one of the most important home video releases of 2016. Completely outstanding.



The chances are you’ve already watched ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’ on afternoon TV. It used to be one of those cosy “they don’t make them like that anymore” movies the BBC would air on a rainy Saturday or Sunday, but watching it again on Network’s new DVD really is a revelation. ‘Carve Her Name…’ is a biopic directed and co-written by Lewis Gilbert, and it’s the story of Violette Szabo (Virginia McKenna), an English widow who is recruited by the Special Operations Executive to help the French resistance battle the German invaders. It’s still a very powerful film and McKenna, who is both inspiring and heartbreaking as Violette, receives great support from Paul Scofield, Jack Warner and Billie Whitelaw, long before Whitelaw would play the terrifying Mrs Baylock in the original ‘The Omen’.

Released in 1958, nine years before Gilbert helmed his first Bond movie, it’s easy to see why the 007 producers thought he would be a perfect fit. Not only does Gilbert direct the dialogue scenes exceedingly well, but the tension is high and the few action sequences are terrifically exciting. Of course, there’s also all the pathos and stiff upper-lipping you’d expect from a film of this vintage, with a kind of terribly well-spoken theatricality in some of the quieter scenes that can be a bit distancing to watch almost sixty years later, but isn’t that true of most 1940s and 50s era British movies? ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’ is still a captivating and emotional tribute to a remarkable woman, and Network’s DVD release (which includes an audio commentary with McKenna and the film’s editor John Shirley) is well worth tracking down.


About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white