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On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. That launched the largest war the world had ever seen up until that point. World War I, or the Great War as it was known before World War II, sent the entire world into chaos, although it was mostly centered in Europe. But the fact remains, World War I shaped the way today’s political world is structured. After all, without WWI, there’s no WWII.
Despite its importance in world history, WWI is no longer a major topic among filmmakers. In fact, the moment WWII started, there was almost a simultaneous agreement that WWI would no longer be a focus for Hollywood. However, those who fought in the war had a hard time forgetting about it. The Great War had as much an impact on film as the second World War did.
Interestingly, because of the complicated political causes of World War I that even people who lived through it didn’t understand, filmmakers largely ignored that aspect of the war. For them, the war was about the harsh realities of killing. The war was the first “modern war,” with heavy machinery, tanks and even airplanes brought to the battlefield. The trenches were hell on earth and no one was going to stop filmmakers from showing that.
So, without any further delay, let’s go through some of the great films made about the war.
Image courtesy of Carlos Diaz/INFGoff.com