It’s been 100 years since the start of World War I. On this Armistice Day (Veteran’s Day in the U.S.) it’s a good time to reflect, or learn about the first ‘modern’ war and it’s horrible legacy which still has a hold on us today, as seen in this article in the Telegraph about excavations at the Flander’s battlefield.
The world’s film industry was quick to turn stories from the war into movies, starting in 1917 when the British government invited D.W. Griffith to come to Europe and gave him access to the from lines where he shot footage for Hearts Of The World, a Paramount picture designed to change American attitudes about the war and encourage the public to push the country to become involved in the war.
Here are a list of my 20 favorite films about the conflict, in the order they were released. They are from different countries and reflect different parts of the war but they all have in common a goal of trying to look at the war from a human level, stripping away the glorified attitudes that started and perpetuated the conflict for 4 years.
J’accuse – France 1919 (director Abel Gance shot footage during the war resulting in realistic and haunting scenes)
The Big Parade – USA 1925
Wings – USA 1927 ( the first film to win an Oscar for Best Picture )
Four Sons – USA 1928
All Quiet On The Western Front – USA 1930
Westfront – Weimar Republic 1930
Niemandsland – Weimar Republic 1930
The Dawn Patrol – USA, 1930
Berge In Flammen – France, Weimar Republic, 1931
Grand Illusion – France 1937
What Price Glory? – USA 1952
Paths Of Glory – USA, 1957
Lawrence Of Arabia – USA, UK 1962
King Of Hearts – France 1962
Oh! What A Lovely War – UK , 1969 ( has an amazing cast)
Johnny Got His Gun – USA, 1971 ( inspired the song “One” by Metallica )
Gallipoli – Australia, 1981
Capitaine Conan – France, 1991
Joyeaux Nöel – USA, France, UK, Germany, Romania, 2005
Chris Schwarz over at Lost Art Press posted a blog entry yesterday with links to three moulding catalogues you can download. The catalogues range from a 1938 catalogue using the old Universal system where the profile numbers were a fairly universal ( at least within the U.S.) numbering system called the 8000 system. The original numbering system begun in the mid 1800’s used a three digit number starting with 1. You can see how the inventory of stock moulds changed over the years as manufacturers offered fewer and fewer profiles. The mid 1800’s catalogues included over 600 different profiles which would dwindle to less than 50 in many catalogues in the early 1950’s.
Here’s three examples that show the slow loss of the variety of stock stop moulds, the first from the 1890’s catalogue, the second from a 1938 catalogue and the last from a booklet from the 1960’s.
“Cyclopaedia, or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Containing the Definitions of the Terms, and Accounts of the Things Signify’d Thereby, in the Several Arts, both Liberal and Mechanical, and the Several Sciences, Human and Divine: the Figures, Kinds, Properties, Productions, Preparations, and Uses, of Things Natural and Artificial; the Rise, Progress, and State of Things Ecclesiastical, Civil, Military, and Commercial: with the Several Systems, Sects, Opinions, etc; among Philosophers, Divines, Mathematicians, Physicians, Antiquaries, Criticks, etc.: The Whole Intended as a Course of Ancient and Modern Learning.”
Fellow Set Designer Scott Schneider alerted me to two reference sites that are a real treasure trove of images. The University of Wisconsin has recently digitized an original 1728 edition of Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia. They have done an excellent job of creating high quality scans of the plates that have always been hard to read in older scans.