Thursday, 28 July 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: First World War


This week made me realise how little films about or set during World War I.  I had to scrape together the films I have seen and they are all quite recent ones. I'm not a big watcher of war films in general and I never linger long at the War Film shelves in shops. There are a few films that might have to go on my Blind Spot list for next year maybe...

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.


War Horse
I think everyone has seen this film or seen the famous stage show. I wasn't lucky enought to witness the brilliant puppetry in the West End and instead opted for the cinema where I could sit in the dark and hold back the emotions watching a tale of one horse and his strong bond with his first owner. The stories are beautifully told in each segment as the horse is birn on a farm in England, taken by the army, then sent into a death charge. From there he is taken to France then is worked hard in the German army and is finally returned to British where he is eventually reunited with his original owner. Not only does this film illustrate how terrible the war was but it shows different characters and ways of life.

Testament of Youth
This was a film I could never see again, mostly because it was just so sad. Based the First World War memoir by Vera Brittain who lost her brother, her fiancé and close friends all to the war. She volunteered as a nurse, tending to British and German soliders and later contiuned to campaign against war. It's beautifully shot but its too much for me.

Deathwatch
This was me, clutching at straws. First World War horror film about a squad of British soliders who find a German trench which seems to be takne by some demonic presence. Lots of Brits in this, names at the time were not well known, now, they are everywhere. It's horrible and I don't like it, I think I sat looking elsewhere during this film. I really can't take horror.

14 comments:

  1. I also had to scrape together picks for this one. I haven't seen any of the ones you chose though, but I heard good things about A Testament of Youth.

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    1. It has an amazing beginning, just Vera distressed pushing through the celebrating crowds after the war has ended. If you get to see it, I think you'll get what I mean.

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  2. Hmmm...well I've seen two of these but can't honestly say I liked either. War Horse was immaculately made but seemed endless to me and I was never really engaged by the story. I had high hopes for Testament of Youth. It seemed geared to several of my sweet spots, historical epic, intense drama etc. but maybe because it was SO sad my attention drifted after a while and I ended up being indifferent to it by the conclusion.

    Points for originality on that last one but a WWI horror film is one I think I'll give the skip.

    I had to cast around a bit as well. Thought the 30's would be chockablock with WWI films but most use it as a starting point and then study the aftereffects and I wanted something where the war was the story's pivot. I did finally come up with these three:

    The Big Parade (1925)-A young gadabout from a wealthy family (John Gilbert) decides to enlist in WWI to experience what he thinks is the romance of war. Soon he is off to France where he befriends two other men and begins a liaison with a young mademoiselle but soon the sheen of new experiences is torn away when they discover the brutality of war first hand. One of the great silents and an essential film.

    My Boy Jack (2008)-17 year old Jack Kipling (Daniel Radcliffe), son of the famous poet Rudyard Kipling, wants to join the navy or perhaps the army to fight the Germans but his poor eyesight prevents his entry. Rudyard uses his influence to arrange his commission with the Irish Guards, a move Jack’s mother & sister (Kim Cattrall and Carey Mulligan) bitterly oppose because it could mean his deployment to the front lines. Jack persists and enters training, then on his 18th birthday he receives orders to lead his troops into what becomes the Battle of Loos where he goes missing. Heartbreaking illustration of the waste of war was originally a TV presentation but with that cast and level of production it could easily be a theatrical film.

    King and Country (1965)-During WWI an army private (Tom Courtenay) is accused of desertion during battle in Belgium. Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde) is assigned to defend him at his court-martial and though initially frustrated by the simple minded man over time he learns there is more to the case than he thought. Somber and grim but worth watching.

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    1. Testament of Youth was just too sad. I admired it but I couldn't watch it again.

      King and Country sounds like a great film, sad, but great, especially the cast. I quite like Tom Courtenay, trying to see more of his films. Its a shame that most or all WW1 films are just sad and difficult to enjoy.

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  3. I've only seen War Horse, and I absolutely love it! The relationship between man and animal is spectacular.

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    1. Yes! Joey and Albert are brilliant!

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  4. Warhorse is a really good film...predictable, but good. Spielberg knows how to manipulate the audience. I have not seen the other 2 but the 2nd film sounds quite good to me

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    1. I'm starting to wish I saw War Horse on stage. But after I saw the film I thought, I know the story I don't need to see it again. But sometimes seeing a play in person can provoke a different response.

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  5. I've only seen War Horse and...it was terrible. Just way too sappy and ridiculous for me. I do want to see your other picks, though. Great work!

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    1. Heheheh I noticed that you weren't a fan from the comments on others posts. I agree it is sappy but I could bear this, as it was about a horse :)

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  6. I haven't seen any of these, and I hate myself for it. War Horse is one of the only half dozen or so Spielberg movies I haven't seen. I have since vowed to see every one at the cinema regardless. The other two sound great.

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    1. War Horse was amazing on the big screen, it has the epic quality to it. If you can catch it at the cinema, its worth it.

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  7. I definitely want to see ToY;the trailer looks good. As for Deathwatch, when you say it was horrible, was it that horrible stuff happens or that it's a bad movie.

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    1. The horror of it was pretty awful (don't like horror) and it wasn't a great movie either

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