Anybody here ever see the A&E Network/History Channel documentary, _The Hindenburg_?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jack Briggs, Dec 1, 2001.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    No, not the dreadful 1975 movie of the same title, but the excellent two-hour, Rip Torn-narrated documentary about the mighty rigid, passenger airships that plied the skies during the first third of the twentieth century.

    Unfortunately, The History Channel only has it available on VHS so far, and an e-mail query of mine about its eventual appearance on DVD only resulted in an annoying form-letter, "thank-you-for-your-interest" reply.

    But the next time the entire documentary is shown, please check it out. (The History Channel sometimes broadcasts an abbreviated version, so skip that one.)

    When I first saw this evocative, romantic documentary, it aroused a major interest on my part in Zeppelins and other rigid-frame airships. I ended up purchasing several books on the subject.

    If you're unfamiliar with the Zeppelin era, you'd be amazed to learn that air travel was once the height of luxury. Imagine leasurely cruising the skies in a four-star hotel. Imagine gazing out into the night sky, as moonlit waters pass below, and you peering out of a panoramic window that can be opened. Such romance.

    You also learn that the mighty LZ-129 Hindenburg herself is remembered for all the wrong reasons: the ship enjoyed a record-setting, distinguished career well before the tragic event at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in May of 1937. The documentary also traces the career of the most successful rigid airship of them all, the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin.

    Another interesting factoid that emerges is that the great airship captain and Zeppelin director, Dr. Hugo Z. Eckener, was the most famous man in the world at the time. He was also a rabidly anti-Nazi hero, who got into serious trouble with Joseph Goebbles and was assigned to persona non-gratis status in Germany because of his outspoken anti-Nazi views. If Eckener had not been so famous, the Nazis would surely have executed him.

    Of course, the real standout of The Hindenburg is all that awesome footage of those even-more-awesome dirigibles--the Shennandoah, Britian's R-100 and R-101, the LZ-126 Los Angeles (manufactured by Zeppelin for the U.S. Navy as part of the War Reparations Act), the U.S. Navy's Macon and Akron, and, of course, the Zeppelins themselves.

    Watching this superbly crafted documentary transports the viewer into an Art Deco world filled with romance and adventure. There was a daring to that era, and those gigantic airships epitomized a spirit of optimism and technology in triumph.

    I'd even advocate ordering the documentary on VHS, but let's not open that can of creepy-crawlies.

    Now that the Zeppelin Company is getting back to manufacturing passenger airships, and now that there's talk of another German project, "the Cargo Lifter" non-rigid airship which will be even larger than the Hindenburg, the documentary possesses new relevance.

    Strongly recommended. And, History Channel, bring this marvelous film to DVD.
  2. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Nov 29, 2001
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    Excellent documentary, I agree.

    How about the one on the Empire State Building ?

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