Video Gurus: World War I

Aug 28, 2015

Whether you want to view World War I from the trenches, explore the war's Christmas truce or cruise the skies, our Video Gurus have something to feed your historical need. Check out what they had to say on this edition of Up to Date.

All Quiet on the Western Front, unrated (before current ratings)

Mitch Brian: To think that this movie was made in 1930, only a year after talkies  came into being… it still has all this power and all this grit. It’s amazing. It’s a testament to what a real filmmaker who is empowered and passionate can do.

Jason Heck:  It’s better than the Richard Thomas-starring remake. Hitler idolized the WWI soldiers…the author of this book had to flee Germany, because it was viewed as a betrayal to all the men who fought. It’s still very resonant, the message of brainwashing youth.

Lora Vogt: It was one of the most well-read books around the globe. When you make it into a great film, it’s easy to see why it stands up.

Joyeaux Noel, PG-13

Mitch: In the end, it’s a Christmas movie, and so the emotions… there are going to be wild swings between great joy and great sadness.

Jason: (With the horrors of the conflict) suddenly, it becomes important to look for traditions from home and to look for any possible comfort you can and any excuse not to get killed.

Lora: It wonderfully-encapsulates, I think, for your heart to feel... what history asks your mind to wrestle with, about how extraordinary events come from ordinary people.

Hell’s Angels,  (before current ratings)

Mitch: There are lots of amazing aerial sequences, and Howard Hughes does some of the flying. The film is this bizarre artifact of that transition (from silent to talkie)... It's like a movie that starts with this 19th century sensibility and becomes 20th century. It was pre-code, (so) it’s a really horny movie.

Jason: Howard Hughes assembled the world’s largest private air force to make this. It’s not a great movie, (but) it is a great artifact.

Wipers Times, unrated

Lora: It features Michael Palin and a cast of excellent actors who most Americans don’t know. They brilliantly framed the theater of war that they were living at the time. The film does this masterful job of staying true to the men’s humor and spoofery … while also showing their real experiences.

Paths of Glory, (before current ratings)

Mitch: It’s the movie that really put (Stanley Kubrick) on the map. It’s a film that is very much about the separation between high command and soldiers. It’s all filled with great big emotions, and you can’t beat it.

Jason: It’s based on the French army mutinies of 1917. There would be no offensive action taken for a month. 

Our World War, unrated

Lora: They've taken letters and primary sources from the soldiers themselves. There is no better film out there that I think captures that sense of modernity... If teachers are looking for a different type of documentary to be pulling onto their classroom, this is really one that I think a lot of people could identify with a bit better.