Friday, November 09, 2007
Armistice Day, aka Veteran's Day
With all these posts on Veteran's Day I haven't put this within the proper context.
Here's some background from wkipedia:
Armistice Day is the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning — the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.
The date was a national holiday in many of the former allied nations to allow people to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. After World War II, it was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day is an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the day of peace in the Flanders Fields.
In many parts of the world, people take two minutes of silence at 11:00 in the morning as a sign of respect for the roughly eight million who died in the war, as suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper though Wellesley Tudor Pole established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917. Beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest the 11th, in order not to interfere with wartime production should the 11th fall on a weekday. This was stopped at some point and many people observe silences on the actual 11th.
Here's a list of top WWI movies from amazon's listmania:
1. Paths of Glory - Kirk Douglas
2. The Lost Battalion-Rick Schroder
3. Gallipoli (Special Edition) DVD ~ Mark Lee
4. All Quiet on the Western Front DVD ~ Richard Thomas
5. Behind the Lines DVD ~ Jonathan Pryce
6. Breaker Morant by Edward Woodward, Jack Thompso Bryan Brown
7. A Farewell to Arms (1932)
8. Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels ~ Ben Lyon
9. NIEMANDSLAND (No Man's Land--Hell On Earth) DVD ~ Hugh Douglas; Geroge Paclet;
10. Sergeant York (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD ~ Gary Cooper
12. What Price Glory? DVD ~ James Cagney
13. Lawrence of Arabia (Limited Edition) DVD ~ John Dimech
14. The Fight 69th-James Cagney
15. Men of Bronze-William Miles director
A list with some detail (I didn't include those films whose summaries I had already posted with clips, ie. Lighthorsemen, Paths of Glory, Lost Battalion, Sergeant York):
All 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.
World War 1 on Film - All the Kings Men All 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.
World War 1 on Film - Behind the Lines 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.
World War 1 on Film - The Blue Max 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.
World War 1 on Film - The First World War 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."
World War 1 on Film - Gallipoli Gallipoli
"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 the field.
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.
World War 1 on Film - Grand Illusion Grand Illusion
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 once again.
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.
World War 1 on Film - King and Country 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 of duty.
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.
World War 1 on Film - Lawrence of Arabia 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 debut.
World War 1 on Film - The Trench The Trench
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.