It’s ok to admit it, you slept through All Quiet on the Western Front in High School. If we do remember part of it, that was probably all the mud and the rats. Although it is a fact that WWI absolutely had those issues in the trenches, the war was far more complex. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Somme let’s Netflix (hold the chill 😉 ) and try to understand more about what the Great War really meant. Check these based-on actual events cinematic depictions of WWI to help you relate and connect to the lives of our relatives over 100 years ago.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Maybe you remember this classic anecdote from history class; on Christmas Eve 1914 all sides of the military stationed at the Western Front halted fighting and declared a 24 hour truce to celebrate Christmas together and collect their dead. Yeah that last part is creep, but this sentiment is awesome and something you will probably never again hear of as modern war fair becomes more about technology. If you enjoy opera and a little bit of a love story this is the movie for you. PS there are tons of subtitles because the movie has 4 languages (French, Gaelic, German, and English)!
Testament of Youth (2014)
This is a major tear-jerker! My goodness, that trailer made me cry just remembering it all over again! I am so glad I watched this at home and not in theaters! The first time I watched it I cleared out two containers of tissues and freaked my husband out when he came home to find me crying and needing a hug. Seriously, this has numerous beautiful love stories and soul-crushing deaths. This is a cinephiles’s dream and every writers’s true desire, as the BFTA nominated film tells a story which centers around the life of the very real young writer, Vera Brittain.
A Farewell to Arms (1932)
WWI Old-school. This movie is a classic. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway and having since being remade, this film stands the test of time. Unlike novel it is not told in first-person and unlike the cinematic remake, it is not tainted by a post-WWII view. It shows the horror of war via a soundstage, but the stories of the struggles of the soldiers and the loved ones back home shine through the cellude and grayscale.
The Red Baron (2008)
I stumbled on to this gem on Egyptian satellite television. It’s a German production but takes the true and tragic tale to new highs. The cinematography of the flight scenes make you feel like you are part of the action and leave you very happy you’re in the comfort of home while watching it. Experience the evolution of the Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen from a spoiled rich boy to celebrated writer to leader of the WWI flying aces. PS if you enjoed The Peanuts Snoopy as a WWI flying ace this movie will show what it was all about and why Snoopy was so inspired.
Anzac Girls (2014)
I was feeling influenced by my new life in Cairo, so I took a leap of faith and got these dvds. This series focuses on the real lives of female nurses from Australia and New Zealand. The young women find themselves in Suez, Alexandria, and Cairo facing the repercussions of bloody battles at sea. All of the 20-something nurses go through coming-of-age scenarios and travel adventures. This WWI miniseries has the perfect balance of romance and adventure, but will make you tear up…it will probably have you Googling ‘Anzac’ and many other geo-specific terms!
Crimson Field (2014)
If you love ‘Call The Midwife’ than you’ll enjoy Crimson Field. The life of British Nurses along the front is not an easy one. Although this series is not focusing on real characters it depicts many of the real-life difficulties the soldiers, doctors, and nurses faced. It also includes many references to long forgotten real-life events and people. It’s a short one season series that is worth the watch.
I love to explore historical events for different perspectives. This is a Russian biopic of Alexander Kolchak a Vice-Admiral of the Russian Imperial Navy. The movie is told in flash backs with the first taking place during a battle in the Baltic Sea where the German Imperial Navy and the British Royal Navy had previously been having a fearsome battle. Then we start to see how the Russian Navy reacted and changed the outcome of the battle. This is the perfect movie to end your marathon with because it shadows the lives of the Vice-Admiral. Rather than only focusing on WWI, the story goes on to depict the Russian Civil War. There’s fighting, lush costumes and sets, and a sexy love-triangle with a married women and a poet. If you like War & Peace, Anna Karenina, and Dr. Zhivago then this movie is for you.
What are you waiting for!?! Go make some of my delicious popcorn and watch history in the best cinematic fashion.