1917by Sam Mendes (2020)
It is the story of two soldiers, Blake and Schofield, who must deliver a message to stop in time a sneak attack that could cost the lives of 1,600 soldiers. On paper, this may seem basic. Sam Mendes arrives with his maxi clogs, who decides to transform this race against time in the middle of the trenches into a fake sequence shot, of crazy intensity and sublimated by the photo of the great Roger Deakins. The scene of the night attack, illuminated only by missiles, is one of the best moments in cinema in recent years. An important film. (A. Cios)
honour menby Saul Dibb (2018)
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One of the last fists on the First World War, one hundred years after its end. Like the new version ofThere is nothing new in the West, this film is based on total disillusionment, sheer madness and total panic in the trenches on the British side. Originally a drama, it is above all in the vision of strong characters and very sharp dialogues that this film marks souls. The hidden face of 1917 by Sam Mendes.
Paths of Gloryby Stanley Kubrick (1957)
It is perhaps one of the greatest films about the First World War. Perhaps also because more than on the conflict, Kubrick focuses, adapting the book of the same name by Humphrey Cobb, on the generals who fired on their own troops to “make an example”, on an inglorious backside, little told so far. A courageous film that caused a scandal by showing another aspect of the horror of this conflict. (A. Cios)
Gallipoliby Peter Weir (1981)
One of the least known on the list yet one of the most fascinating. Gallipoli offers an Australian view of the Battle of the Dardanelles, the very harsh conflict that waged against the Ottoman Empire since 1915. The cast features young Australian actors, including Mel Gibson in one of his first roles, more or less at the same time as his second madmax. Peter Weir is a whiz at bringing this little-known battle and the involvement of young Australians into it to light. It’s really a great film, very little mentioned, like all of Peter Weir’s filmography, still exceptional.
Battle horseby Steven Spielberg (2011)
Steven Spielberg chooses a very particular angle to talk about the First World War, with the story of a young man and a horse at the beginning of the last century. Based on a novel, itself based on a children’s book, the film is a real epic, necessarily quite romantic, where the man-animal relationship is at the center. Spielberg also expresses his harshest criticisms of war and the senseless carnage of the battlefields there. A very moving show.
Captain Conan (1996) / Life and nothing else (1989), by Bertrand Tavernier
Another view of the war taking place further east, away from the trenches of Verdun. With Captain Conan, Bertrand Tavernier returns to the conflict in the Balkans that really raged until 1918. Following a team of violent and efficient ex-convicts led, therefore, by their captain Conan, this film offers a glimpse into the soldiers of fortune at the heart of this first global conflict. Beyond pure combat action, it also chronicles life between battles, seeing these men lost in enemy territory, and their gentle drifts to extremes. This film also offers a chance to see some of the shameful history of the war, with the execution of deserters when the war has already claimed millions of lives. A complete movie.
We stay with Tavernier for a second film on the background of the First World War. This time we are two years after the end of the conflict with a commander played by Philippe Noiret, who helps two women find their missing relatives. A love story is tied between the lines, in search of the unknown soldier. A tough film about memory and the huge post-war open-air mass grave.
Johnny goes to warby Dalton Trumbo (1971)
The anti-war film par excellence. Based on a book by Dalton Trumbo published right at the start of WWII, this film took years to put together, after Trumbo’s demonization during the McCarthy era and then various projects with Luis Buñuel or Salvador Dalí . Ultimately, Trumbo did it himself, and it comes out right in the middle of the Vietnam War. He has become the standard bearer of peaceful protests across the country. The film is an electroshock that allows us to see how wars accumulate and all look alike.
Lawrence of Arabiaby David Lean (1962)
World War I was, as the name suggests, the first widespread conflict. So even the movies that talk about it cover a lot of territory. And so one of the greatest films in history is actually a film about the first war. With the story of Lieutenant Lawrence, David Lean returns to war film after his Bridge over the River Kwai. This time it’s about the Great Arab Revolt of 1916-1918 whose aim was to liberate Arab countries from the Ottoman Empire, another little-known part of the war. David Lean makes it a true classic with Peter O’Toole, mystic, philosophical and powerful. To be reviewed every year.
The Odyssey of the African Queenby John Huston (1951)
We continue around the world with another side of the conflict, this time in Africa. In what is now Tanzania, Humphrey Bogart was a Canadian adventurer who traveled in his boat, the African Queen. In 1914, he came to warn English evangelists, including Katharine Hepburn, in a remote village that war was about to break out. However, Tanzania was then under German control. The African Queen becomes a warship to sink a German gunboat. It’s adventure, romance, war. You are unique. It’s John Huston, what.
The king of heartsby Philippe de Broca (1966)
For the latter film, France directed. We are at the end of the war, the Germans are leaving and want to trap the town of Marville before the arrival of the British. A British soldier is tasked with finding the trap and defusing it. He falls into a ghost town where only an asylum remains inhabited. A gigantic metaphor for both the festival of fools and the Bal des ardents in the city of Rijeka in 1919, this atypical film seems completely out of time. Philippe de Broca, specialist in action and adventure films, often with Jean-Paul Belmondo as in The man from Rio, Cartridge Where is it The magnificent, directs here one of his most complex, intriguing and profound films. A real favourite.
Article made with Arthur Cios