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Winds of War- an emotional film

Updated on May 30, 2011


The 1983 miniseries "Winds of War" captures not only the fashion, music and history of the time period, but it also captures the emotional heartaches that come with war and it's heartache and uncertainty.

When the miniseries first was aired back in 1983 we had a very mature Robert Mitchum cast as as the main character Victor "Pug" Henry and Polly Bergen playing his wife Rhoda.Both of these actors appeared to live their roles and offer the viewer 15 hours of magnificent cinema. The music is hauntingly beautiful and sadly melancholy as we follow the Henry family and the Jastrow family throughout their lives in great detail. Ali McGraw played Natalie Jastrow, the Jewish woman who wins the heart of Byron Henry (played by handsome Jan Michael Vincent), Pug and Rhoda's middle son. In typical middle child fashion, Byron can seem to do no right, and his father steadfastly admonishes him to follow his dream for his son, 

Back in 1983, I remember watching this series with my parents who were newly married in the 1940's. The nostalgia of the time would keep my parent's glued to the Television during the time it was airing, and by proxy left me equally as enchanted. Watching it now, some 28 years later, I not only reflect on the historical significance, but am deeply nostalgic for my parents reactions so many years ago. Watching it over Memorial Day weekend seemed particularly apropos, as it was the time to memorialize our war dead.

During the time the picture was made there is no sparing of actual events that led to the war and the various key players of the time. The actors who played Hitler, Churchill and other officers of the Nazi party are dead on, Roosevelt, played by Ralph Bellamy was kind and quirky and the scenes where the fictional Pug and Roosevelt interact were excellent and as realistic a fiction piece Wouk could pen. 

I began watching this story as a way to connect with the time period again, and ended up not even remembering the series so as to delight in it all over again, as if it was the first time. The unimaginable hatred of the Nazi party, the innocence of those to whom the horror's had been withheld from, the catastrophic enormity of the world venue, and the scathing prejudice and fear is a reminder that these things are not always so far from our past. 

As someone who has a critical eye to cinematography and accurate representation of  historical events, I felt satisfied with the depiction of the time, the lives of the characters and the meticulous detail this miniseries offers. To me, it is a rare opportunity to reflect back on a period of time in the world when there was nothing to be sure of, yet those remained hopeful. 

The sequel "War and Remembrance" will be my next challenge. I also watched this series and intend to re-watch it from an older viewpoint. It was sad to see that the handsome Jan Michael Vincent has endured drug and alcohol addictions and a car accident after making this film, as his boyish charm would lead any young woman to "swoon" a bit. And dear Robert Mitchum passed away in 1997 from complications of emphysema. His tough characterization at a more mature age was also quite endearing. Yet, we all must endure the same fate eventually...the screen makes us able to share a few moments in time with those who light up the celluloid and that, it worth reflecting upon.


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