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Britain is a country that has been forged by centuries of warfare. Each episode charts one key battle which could have gone either way, and did much to shape the nation that Britain is today. Dynamic father-and-son team Peter and Dan Snow, together with historical renactors, give the soldiers perspective on what it must have been like to ride, march, fly and sail into battle. Episodes include: Boudicca's Revolt, The Battle of Hastings, Battle for Wales, Spanish Armada, Battle of Naseby, Battle of the Boyne, Battle of Culloden, and the Battle of Britain.
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Father and son team Peter and Dan Snow make a charismatic pair of presenters in Battlefield Britain, an excellent documentary series from the BBC examining key battles on British soil throughout that kingdom’s turbulent history. These eight episodes on three discs cover two thousand years of British history, starting with Boudicca’s Revolt against the Romans in A.D. 61, up to the Battle of Britain in 1940. They take a tag-team approach, with Peter as the knowledgeable professor-type guide who presents an overview, and Dan as the reenactor who experiences the events firsthand at the level of the individual soldier (for example, making a forced march through the night with a pike in episode 5, to see what it was like for the soldiers at the battle of Naseby). The Snows’ engaging presentation style is key to the success of this fascinating series, and their enthusiasm for the subject of history is easily conveyed. They serve as virtual tour guides, filming on location and giving detailed descriptions of exactly who was where, how they moved, and what happened. This may sound obvious but it’s surprising how many other documentaries neglect to do this. As a result, this approach, combined with a clever use of computer graphics for the re-enactments, succeeds in bringing the events to life in an engaging and easily-understandable way. Interviews filmed with actors playing the parts of those involved in the battles actually do little to help and come off as an idea that doesn’t really work. But that aside, Battlefield Britain emerges as a fresh and innovative series that carves out its own unique niche among the catalog of military documentaries. Here’s hoping this model of presentation gets carried on to other battlefields. --Daniel Vancini
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