War Remains: Dan Carlin Presents

3-star rating
PCVR, Quest
Documentary, History
Comfortable, Stationary

War Remains title super imposed over a glowing red background with dead and charred trees.

Popular podcaster Dan Carlin is best known for his dramatic retelling of historical world events through detailed long-form audio commentaries. In 'War Remains: Dan Carlin Presents an Immersive Memory' his narrative vividly portrays European trench warfare during the First World War, delving into its profound impact on those unfortunate enough to experience the brutality of the battlefields.

Despite Carlin's non-academic background in history, his prior involvement in television news reporting and radio talk shows helps him deliver engaging historical insights. It's his voice that leads this experience, with strong support from immersive audio designed by Skywalker Sound that plays over five animated visual sequences. 'War Remains' addresses the suffering unflinchingly with strong content and doesn't let up throughout its thirteen minute runtime. Scenes depicted include trench warfare and a point of view of what it may have been like to shelter in place during heavy bombardment. The hardships and horrors of war are further driven home by the hard-hitting narration.

Point of view from a wicker basket suspended beneath a balloon.
European air assault; WWI transformed warfare.

The primary goal of 'War Remains' is to offer viewers a firsthand understanding of the horrors and psychological strains of a post-industrial age war. The program's shorter duration might come as a relief, especially considering its likely audience of museum visitors. However, for those viewing at home, a longer piece with more historical context would have been preferable for us, especially after paying to download this app.

There's also some uncertainty about the effectiveness of utilizing virtual reality to enhance this experience. While the Audio presentation of 'War Remains' achieves an exceptional level of quality, both in the narrative and the accompanying immersive sound design, the visual component falls short. Except for a brief scene portraying shelter during a bombing raid, the animated images lack a sense of immersion and often actually distract from the narrative. Additionally, despite being a story centered on human suffering the visuals barely depict human figures at all. We suspect we'd have a more impactful experience just listening to the audio while viewing actual photography from the period.

Dan Carlin is the host of Hardcore Histories and other podcasts, available through the usual podcast apps and also at Dan Carlin.com.

An explosion, as three soldiers climb out of a trench.
Trench warfare in World War I.

Destroyed trench, burning tank and charred landscape.
The aftermath of a battle.

✅ Excellent audio narration and effects.
✅ Compelling retelling of historical events.
❌ Visuals struggle to provide immersion.

• YouTube: Trailer
• Languages: English
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