|Welcome to the World
War 1 on Film Section!
In this section you will
find a whole host of great World War 1 films that have graced our
cinema's and TV screens over the past 80 years. Some of those reviewed
here were made for civilian consumption. Most however are big name
epics or extended dramas, featuring such stars as Peter O'Toole,
George Peppard, Kirk Douglas and many more. We also have some of
the latest special effect masterpieces of the last decade. The
list of films here is by no means complete and will be added to in
Quiet on the Western Front
Remake of the all-time great war story based on the pacifist novel by Erich Maria
Remarque. The tragic tale of a group of German recruits during World War I.
the Kings Men
The Royal British Army's Sandringham Company, led by Captain Frank Beck (Jason),
was a unit comprised entirely of servants, grooms and gardeners from King George
V's Norfolk Estate. On August 12, 1915, the company marched into battle against
the Turkish forces at Gallipoli and vanished into thin air, never to be heard
from again. Through this drama, the details of the Sandringham's fateful, misconceived
campaign are brought to life, reconstructing the true story of a group of gentile,
amateur soldiers who valiantly marched to their doom.
Behind the Lines
A psychiatrist (Pryce) in a military mental institution during World War One
is responsible for treating shell-shocked soldiers and returning them to battle.
He's tormented with the morality of this task upon hearing first hand graphic
war stories from his patients. The situation brings him dangerously close to
the edge of a mental breakdown. An emotional tale of wartime heroism and sacrifice
based the true story and the novel REGENERATION by Pat Barker.
The Blue Max
WWII. The "Blue Max", a coveted medal for achievement in flying, is
ruthlessly sought by Peppard, a poor-boy German soldier who climbs out of the
trenches and into the aristocratic air force. He is met with prejudice by the
other contestants, wealthy snobs who look down upon his low economic stature.
When he claims the title, he earns the respect of the General and the General's
wife (Andress), who wants to repay him in ways that the General might not appreciate.
Peppard, on the other hand, does. Fantastic aerial combat highlights the film,
although the scenes between the two lovers don't hurt matters much.
The First World War
This thorough and stimulating 10-part series provides a comprehensive narrative
of World War I. Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Lewis attempts to fill in small
gaps and create a cohesive timeline of the war from a global perspective. Fresh
accounts provide insights and a context from which to consider the war's affects
on human history. Episodes include "To Arms," "Under the Eagle," "Global
War," "Jihad," "Shackled to a Corpse," "Breaking
the Deadlock," "Blockade," "Revolution," "Germany's
Last Gamble," and "War without End."
"Gallipoli" relates the events surrounding the ill-fated World War
I battle, in which Australian and New Zealand troops set out to capture Istanbul.
But mistakes made by upper-echelon military commanders led to disaster -- in
which the army grunts suffered the most. The film, however, focuses not only
on epic clashes, but on the friendships that developed between the soldiers on
A profound study of the friendship of two young Australian men caught up in the
murderous First World War. Set on the Turkish front in 1915, this film effectively
combines history and drama.
Jean Renoir's brilliant farewell to Europe's ancient regime, GRAND ILLUSION,
set during WWI, stars Jean Gabin as Marechal and Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal, French
prisoners of war who constantly escape from prison only to be recaptured. Along
with the gracious aristocrat de Boldieu (Pierre Fresnay), they're moved to the
fortresslike Wintersborn prison, from which no one has escaped. The commandant
of the prison is the ace German pilot von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim),
now grounded by injury. Despite humane treatment, the Frenchmen plan to escape
Calling on his own experiences as an aviator in WWI as well as those of his
comrades, Jean Renoir's antiwar masterpiece bids farewell to the class constrictions
of European society and calls for the unity of humankind across class and national
boundaries. Set in the German prison camps of WWI, the film stars Jean Gabin
as Marechal, and Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal. Like the charming aristocrat de
Boldieu (Pierre Fresnay), these two French aviators were shot down and now
spend most of their time escaping from German prison camps before inevitably
being recaptured. Between escapes, they do what they can to amuse themselves,
which includes running a talent show, but after a tunnel they've dug is discovered,
the three are sent to Wintersborn, a forbidding fortress of a prison, which
is commanded by former ace pilot von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim). The
humane commandant practices noblesse oblige toward de Boldieu, hoping for an
alliance across national lines. But he comes to learn that this phrase has
a different meaning for the Frenchman. One of the great films of all time,
GRAND ILLUSION perhaps most purely embodies director Jean Renoir's characterstic
humanism, manifested less here in camera technique than an instinctive ability
to educe truthful performances from his cast.
King and Country
An army lawyer must defend a young private charged with desertion during World
War I. As the lawyer learns more about what actually happens on the front line,
he's compelled to do whatever it takes to spare the boy from the firing squad.
KING AND COUNTRY is a powerful fable concerning the evils of war and the nature
Joseph Losey takes an unadorned look at the realities of World War I trench warfare
in his jarring military courtroom drama KING AND COUNTRY. Tom Courtenay stars
as Hamp, the muddled, Cockney private who, at his wit's end, deserts his post,
attempting to escape the ever-present sound of guns and walk home. Dirk Bogarde
is Captain Hargreaves, an aristocratic, no-nonsense British Army lawyer who must
defend Hamp before the army tribunal, for whom the crime of desertion carries
a nasty stigma and the penalty of execution. The action is confined to the mud-entrenched,
rat-infested confines of the barracks, creating a stifling atmosphere, which
is only amplified by Losey’s masterful scenes exposing the dry cruelty
and unnerving boredom of army life. Initially, Hargreaves approaches Hamp’s
case with disdain; however, upon learning that Hamp volunteered for duty on a
dare, that he is the sole survivor of his unit, and that his wife has been unfaithful
in his absence, his efforts on Hamp's behalf become more impassioned and earnest.
Faced with the unfeeling face of the army bureaucracy, Hargreaves's arguments
fall on deaf ears as Hamp becomes a tool of morale boosting on the eave of the
troop’s dispersal into an impending bloody battle.
Lawrence of Arabia
This classic film was based on the real-life exploits of legendary British scholar
and soldier T.E. Lawrence. Stationed in Cairo in 1916, Lawrence languished
in the mapmaking department of British Intelligence until he was asked to find
and gather information on Prince Feisal, leader of the Arab Allied forces in
World War I. His desert journey inspired his first military success when he
led a small contingent of Arabs against the Turkish stronghold of Aqaba. Lawrence's
military career flourished as he attempted to forge a new, united Arab nation
out of squabbling tribes.
David Lean's masterpiece, perhaps the greatest of screen epics, stars Peter O'Toole
in one of the most electrifying debuts in film history. The film is less an ordinary
adventure than an experience that leaves an overwhelming sense memory of the
struggle between two powerful forces: the Arabian deserts, immense, intractable,
ever-shifting, punishing; and T.E. Lawrence, humble as a monk, flamboyant as
a rock star, protean, polymathic, heroic, enigmatic, mad. While working on the
staff of British Intelligence in Cairo in 1916, Lawrence's fluency in Arabic
earns him a post on a mission sent to establish contact with Prince Feisal (Alec
Guinness), leader of the Arab revolt and ally of the British against the German-sponsored
Turks in WWI. Impressed by Lawrence's knowledge of their culture, the prince
allows the young officer to join his staff, and Lawrence quickly earns the Arabs'
respect after he executes acts of extraordinary heroism. As the Englishman's
genius for guerrilla warfare becomes evident, he assumes the role of de facto
leader of the Arab revolt, uniting the heretofore warring tribes into a devastatingly
effective weapon. But the chaos of war also unleashes the repressed officer's
powerful need for self-abasement and mortification of the flesh. A visionary
work that unfolds one indelible image after another, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA fuses
the conflict of man against man, man against nature, and man against himself
into a sublime poem of force. The film features a literate script by Robert Bolt
and an outstanding cast, which also includes Claude Rains, Jack Hawkins, Arthur
Kennedy, Anthony Quinn, Jose Ferrer, and Omar Sharif in his unforgettable desert-crossing
The Lost Battalion
Based on an inspiring true story, THE LOST BATTALION recreates the life and death
action of the first Great War. Rick Shroder (NYPD BLUE) stars as Major Charles
Whittlesey, a soldier who received the coveted Congressional Medal of Honor
for his heroic actions near the close of World War I. A civilian-turned-soldier,
Whittlesey proved to be a brilliant and fearless major when he and his troops
found themselves surrounded by the enemy in the dense Argonne Forest. With
no food, supplies, or tools of communication, Whittlesey managed to fend off
the Germans for 5 days until he was rescued.
Paths of Glory
Stanley Kubrick brings Humphrey Cobbs's scathing, fact-based antiwar novel to
life with stunning results. Amid the insufferable trench warfare of WWI, a
French general orders his men to attack an obviously impenetrable German position
and accuses them of cowardice when the attack fails. To soothe his wounded
vanity, three men are picked at random to stand trial and face the firing squad.
The script was cowritten by noir author Jim Thompson.
PATHS OF GLORY is among the most powerful antiwar films ever made. The story
takes place in 1916 France, as the French command orders an exhausted unit to
wrest control of an anthill from the Germans--expecting a casualty rate of 60
percent. The battle--during which the Germans are never seen, indicating that
the French are their own worst enemy--turns into a bloody massacre. Looking for
a scapegoat, General Mireau (George Macready) orders Colonel Dax (a never-more-intense
Kirk Douglas) to select three of his men to face a court-martial and possible
firing squad for the troops' cowardice. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, PATHS OF
GLORY, based on the novel by Humphrey Cobbs, is a gut-wrenching, unforgettable
drama. Every scene is awash in grays, covered in doom. Kubrick marvelously contrasts
the ornate palace where the generals sip their cognac with the ramshackle trenches
where injured men stumble about, demoralized and shellshocked. Douglas gives
a tough, gritty performance; his tense sparring with the high command features
sharp, biting dialogue. The entire cast is outstanding; watching so many men
die for no reason is maddening. Kubrick captured the Vietnam War in FULL METAL
JACKET, the cold war in DR. STRANGELOVE, the Seven Years' War in BARRY LYNDON,
and a slave uprising in SPARTACUS, but PATHS OF GLORY is his crowning achievement
when it comes to depicting the devastation, both physical and psychological,
that war wreaks on the individual--as well as the state.
THE TRENCH tells the story of a group of young British soldiers on the eve of
the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, the worst defeat in British
military history. Against this ill-fated backdrop, the movie depicts the soldiers'
experience as a mixture of boredom, fear, panic, and restlessness, confined
to a trench on the front lines. At the center of the troops is 17-year-old
Billy MacFarlane (Paul Nicholls), who alongside his older brother, Eddie (Tam
Williams), has volunteered for service. Like their fellow squad members, they
are boys dressed as men. Their survival is in the hands of war-hardened Sergeant
Winter (Daniel Craig) and bookish Lieutenant Hart (Julian Rhind-Tutt). However,
when word comes that the squad will join the first wave of the attack, they
all face an equal fate. Novelist and screenwriter William Boyd's directorial
debut steers clear of epic pronouncements about the pointlessness of war. Instead,
he illuminates in glowing detail the characters perched at the edge of the
abyss. With a minimum of bloodshed, the movie seeks to capture a momentous
event through a narrow lens. Watching the men march stiffly into battle, it
becomes clear there is no such thing as "modern" warfare.
World War 1 in Color
Viewers are used to seeing scratchy black and white footage depicting the events
of World War I. But it's rare to see full color pictures from the war that
changed the world, so on this release a team of archivists have collated the
best material that is known to be available. Split into six parts, the program
contains some startling viewing, as soldiers march off to battle on land, sea,
and in the air--all in glorious color. The footage has been lovingly collated
and creates a realistic, sometimes harrowing, portrait of what it was like
to go into battle.