8.4/101 Votes Alchetron
Created by Herman Wouk
Narrated by William Woodson
First episode date 13 November 1988
Directed by Dan Curtis
Composer(s) Bob Cobert
Genre War film
|Written by Dan Curtis
Earl W. Wallace
Starring Robert Mitchum Jane Seymour Hart Bochner Victoria Tennant John Gielgud
Network American Broadcasting Company
Cast Jane Seymour, Robert Mitchum, Sharon Stone, Polly Bergen, Hart Bochner
War and Remembrance is an American miniseries based on the novel of the same name written by Herman Wouk, which aired from November 13, 1988 to May 14, 1989. It is the sequel to The Winds of War, which was also based on one of Wouk's novels.
The television mini-series continues the story of the extended Henry family and the Jastrow family starting on December 15, 1941 and ending on August 7, 1945.
War and Remembrance had a multi-year production timeline. It was the most expensive single-story undertaking in United States television history up to that point, costing $104 million and taking over ABC's broadcast schedule for two one-week periods in 1988 and 1989, totaling 30 prime-time hours.
Miniseries had been major events on American television, reserved for "important" stories like Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1968). Up to that point, television had been dominated by the Big Three broadcasting networks in the United States, ABC, NBC and CBS. Shortly after, cable television began the fragmentation of the United States broadcasting audience in earnest, leaving War and Remembrance the last of the giant miniseries.
Because Herman Wouk was happy with Dan Curtis's adaptation of The Winds of War, he allowed Curtis to adapt the sequel as well. Paramount Television, the studio behind The Winds of War, decided not to produce the sequel and sold the rights to ABC, which had only aired the original series. ABC first planned a $65 million, 20-hour series, but when they went to Curtis, he said he wanted to make a $100 million, 30-hour series, which they eventually greenlit. There were also contractual restrictions on advertising: Herman Wouk had approval over all ads and refused to allow any advertising for personal care products, foods, or other ABC programming. Two major eventual sponsors were Ford Motors and Nike. In addition, Wouk required that certain Holocaust sequences run uninterrupted by commercials of any kind. ABC's standards and practices division also agreed to an unprecedented waiver allowing frontal nudity during the lengthy Holocaust sequences, running parental advisories before any episodes beginning before 8pm. The series was nearly called off in 1985, just as it was nearing the completion of $16 million in preproduction, when ABC was bought by Capital Cities.
Several actors were changed between The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Actor John Houseman played Aaron Jastrow in Winds of War, but was too frail for War and Remembrance's lengthy production schedule. He died of spinal cancer in 1988, the year War and Remembrance was broadcast. He was replaced by John Gielgud. Jane Seymour was cast as Mrs. Natalie Henry in place of Ali MacGraw after Seymour campaigned for the role and made a screen test. Dan Curtis was struck by her performance and immediately cast her in the vital role. Because the miniseries was shot out of sequence, producers could not cut Jane Seymour's hair for the scenes in the concentration camp. Make-up artists took shears to a full scalp wig for her to wear for those scenes instead.
The actor Jan-Michael Vincent, who played Byron Henry in the Winds of War, was busy in the American television series Airwolf as an action lead. It is hinted in the featurette on the Winds of War DVDs that Vincent's drinking made him difficult on set. He was replaced by Hart Bochner. Other major replacements include Sharon Stone as Janice (replacing Deborah Winters), Leslie Hope as Madeline (replacing Lisa Eilbacher), Michael Woods as Warren (replacing Ben Murphy), Robert Morley as Alistair Tudsbury (replacing Michael Logan), Barry Bostwick as Aster (replacing Joseph Hacker), and Steven Berkoff as Adolf Hitler (replacing Günter Meisner). William Woodson again serves as narrator.
During preproduction, Dan Curtis lobbied the Polish Communist government tirelessly for permission to film on the grounds of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and after two years was eventually allowed, making War and Remembrance the first major commercial motion picture to film there. His request was aided by the intercession of the Polish state TV network, and the support of Poland's preeminent World War II expert, who approved the script. Curtis said that he was allowed to film at Auschwitz on condition that the script not have "one word about Polish anti-Semitism" during the war. Filming on the miniseries began with production at Auschwitz from January to May 1986. When the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened nearby, causing legitimate fears of fallout spreading across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Curtis called in nuclear scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to give the location a clean bill of health, but allowed any crew members still afraid to wait in Munich for the production to return. The crematoriums were rebuilt adjacent to the original site, from the original German blueprints, because they had been demolished by the Nazis at the end of the war. Both Curtis and star Jane Seymour contracted pneumonia in the brutal sub-zero temperatures there. Several actual Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors were cast as extras for the Auschwitz-Birkenau selection sequence and former Auschwitz internee Branko Lustig, later a two-time Oscar-winning producer, served as assistant director on the series.
Filmed from January 1986 to September 1987, the 1,492 page script (by Earl W. Wallace, Dan Curtis, and Herman Wouk) contained 2,070 scenes. There were 757 sets: 494 in Europe, including France, Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, West Germany, England, and Poland, and 263 in the United States (including Hawaii) and Canada. There were 358 speaking parts in the script; 30,310 extras were employed in Europe and 11,410 in the United States.
The series shot in Yugoslavia in Zagreb and Osijek, where the old town district of Tvrđa, a Habsburg star-shaped fortress, was used as a primary location, doubling for the almost identical fortress town of Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, which was converted by the Nazis to a Jewish ghetto. Filming took place in France throughout Paris, including the Paris Opera, where a scene from The Marriage of Figaro was staged with a 42-piece symphony orchestra and 500 extras, and Lourdes, where the production took over the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes; in West Germany in Baden-Baden and Berchtesgaden, where members of the United States Army, stationed nearby were hired as extras for some of the scenes shot at Hitler's Eagle's Nest; in Rome and Siena, Italy; London and Cambridge, England; and Vienna, Austria. Scenes set in Russia were filmed in Montreal in temperatures reaching 40 degrees below zero Celsius.
In the US, the production shot extensively in and around Los Angeles, as well as in Long Beach, California aboard the USS New Jersey, in Bremerton, Washington, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, in Pensacola, Florida, in Mobile, Alabama, aboard the USS Alabama, and throughout Hawaii, where a large group of warships were assembled for filming at Waianae.
The miniseries was originally intended to run on consecutive nights in 1989, but the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike caused ABC to move the first half, chapters I–VII, up to air in the fall of 1988, with the episodes no longer airing on consecutive nights. The miniseries underperformed ABC's ratings expectations, with the first chapter averaging an 18.6 Nielsen rating and a 29% viewer share. Dan Curtis blamed the lower ratings partly on the confusing airdates, saying in a 2002 interview that ABC "skipped Saturdays and Mondays, the viewers lost the thread, and they didn't even put up a sign saying 'To Be Continued' at the end of the first half."
Due to the lower than expected ratings for the first half, the second half, chapters VIII–XII (marketed by ABC as "The Final Chapter"), had several hours cut before airing. The second half was also mixed and aired in mono, instead of the stereo used on the first half. This was not a cost-cutting measure, but the result of a technical issue encountered with airing the stereo mix on the first half.
Capital Cities/ABC lost an estimated $30-$40 million on the production.
War and Remembrance received 15 Emmy Award nominations and won for best miniseries, special effects and single-camera production editing. The miniseries was nominated for Emmy Awards for best actor (John Gielgud), actress (Jane Seymour) and supporting actress (Polly Bergen). John Gielgud and Barry Bostwick both won Golden Globe awards.