In the States, "Cinema Europe: The Forgotten Hollywood" was shown on television shortly after it was shown in the UK. I saw bits and pieces of it and assumed they'd re-show it. Well, they didn't. So, I tried to get a copy from Amazon of the series on DVD--and it was out of print very quickly. And, if I DID want a used copy, it was $200!! $200 for a single-DVD is preposterous--and I assume it being out of print and so expensive will keep practically everyone from seeing this amazing series. So, I tried to find a copy on Netflix--and it was not available. And, I tried a really great independent video/DVD rental place many miles away...and they didn't have a copy but said they sure wished they had one! Fortunately, one of the local libraries had a copy and now a decade and a half later, I finally got to see it in its entirety. And I doubt if many will realize that they have such a treasure in their library system or take advantage of it. It's a shame--it's a real must-see and you might not have access to it!
The biggest reason I wanted to see this is that the two men responsible for the show were Kevin Brownlow and David Gill--two men who are responsible for preserving so much in our film history. In fact, Brownlow just recently received and honorary Oscar for his work--and Gill, sadly, died only a few years after "Cinema Europe" debuted--and did not receive this award. Some other work they've done were the absolutely amazing films on the art and work of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Chaplin--as well as non-comedians D.W. Griffith and Mary Pickford. They have helped our generation remember and celebrate these brilliant early film makers and actors.
"Cinema Europe" is about the earliest days of European film up to about the time of Nazi rule in Germany. So, while the box are says it's about the silent era, episode six ALSO includes the transition to sound and the early sound films. It's narrated by Kenneth Branagh (who did a great job) and has many film clips--almost all of which were nearly pristine. But it's improved more through the use of various interviews made for the film AND which had been done through the years by various film makers who had died well before the series was created. It took a lot of work to assemble all this--that's for sure.
While I adore this series and wish I had my own copy, I won't lie and say it's perfect--even though I gave it a 10 (it is without equal--that's why it merits a 10). The shows often give spoilers, so if you haven't seen a great silent film like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", you might not want to as the show tells the surprise ending!! This is not cool. Also, the DVD has no captions of any type--and with some of the thick accents of the people in the show, it would be appreciated--especially with someone like me who is hard of hearing. Still, it's great...see this film.