Published August 10, 2012
The stunning panoramic views of London featured throughout NBC's coverage of the summer Olympic Games make it hard to imagine the devastation that occurred 72 years ago during the Blitz.
While it might harsh your Olympic-induced mellow, Tom Brokaw takes an intense look back at how the city survived the barbarism of Adolf Hitler's Germany in the two years before the U.S. entered World War II with "Their Finest Hour" (Saturday, 8/7c).
The documentary precedes the final night of competition coverage that includes track and field, and gold medal finals in men's platform diving and women's volleyball. But it's a worthwhile break in the action.
"What England went through in 1940 and '41 will endure forever as a lesson in courage, national resolve and the power of enlightened leadership," Brokaw told TV Guide Magazine. "Against great odds, the UK kept Hitler from using this island nation as a launching pad for expanding his evil empire. We owe this country and that time a great debt."
Brokaw, with the aid of producers Brian Brown and Joe Gesue, spent two years shooting "Their Finest Hour" across London, Dover, Coventry, Portsmouth, Bladon and Cambridge, where they interviewed victims of Germany's sustained bombing attacks. The producers also unearthed some haunting color footage of Europe during the war that hasn't been seen in years.
Several of the interviews in the film were also conducted down in Winston Churchill's London war rooms, which have been preserved to this day. The site is a monument to a time when, as Brokaw puts it, England was all that was left between liberty and tyranny.
Why is it important to revisit this now? "Coming here for the Olympics during a time of great economic uncertainty and anxiety, it is important to remember the lessons of sacrifice and unity in that much more dangerous era," says Brokaw. People who have spent their time tweeting and whining about NBC's tape delayed coverage as if it were an affront to humanity should take note.