Whenever military experts - particularly Napoleonic historians - think about classic battles then Austerlitz is usually at the top of the list.

For on the field of Austerlitz in 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte showed the world that he was a true genius of warfare by tricking his enemies into attacking him and then utterly destroying them.

Line of Fire: Austerlitz examines the crucial clash between the outnumbered army of France and the troops of the overconfident Austrian and Russian commanders and looks in detail at just how Bonaparte managed to inflict such a massive defeat to end the Third Coalition against him.

The first 20 minutes of the programme are devoted to setting the political scene and the opening moves of the campaign. This is really helpful for newcomers to the era and will give people a solid, but easy-to-understand path into why Austerlitz was so important.

Again Cromwell Productions has made full use of contemporary paintings and engravings and in the later battle scenes has clips from Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace.

Bonaparte was encamped with his Grande Armee in Boulogne, awaiting the chance to invade Britain, when he learnt of the Russian and Austrian moves against Bavaria.

Due to a slight miscalculation of dates - the Russians not being on the Gregorian calendar - the allies were working on a timetable some 12 days apart. This left Austria's General Mack sitting by himself at Ulm. Imagine his shock when instead of Russian reinforcements he looked out one day to see a rather large French army surrounding him. No wonder he later surrendered his 60,000 men.

Bonaparte then took off to catch the Russians and another Austrian army and at Austerlitz he found the perfect spot to fight them.

Feigning weakness, he sucked the Allies into battle and while they thought things were going brilliantly he snapped his trap on them and won the day.

In addition to the film sequences, the battle contains animated maps of troop dispositions and movement and leading experts add excited comments on what happened and why.

In this programme the producers have used military historians Bob Carruthers, Matthew Bennett, Duncan Anderson and Aryck Nusbacher.

It's very hard to fault this series.



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