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
- Das Weisse Band – Germany, 2009