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Hydrogenbond's avatar

Why aren't there very many movies about World War I?

Asked by Hydrogenbond (365 points ) February 7th, 2010

Besides All Quiet on the Western Front. I can’t think of another one.

Does anybody know of any good documentaries on either of the two Great Wars?

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18 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

A lot of the important scenes in “Dr. Zhivago” happen in WWI, including when Zhivago meets Lara.

I think there was a movie made of George Orwell’s “Goodbye to All That,” which is my favorite WWI book.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Probably because more people are familiar with the main players and settings of WWII than WWI. Not so many people are familiar with Austria-Hungary or the Battle of the Somme, but plenty of people have heard of the Battle of the Bulge and virtually everyone knows who and what Nazi-Germany was.
-Dan

(Besides, Nazis make GREAT ready-made bad guys for Hollywood. I mean, they even borrowed them for Indiana Jones, which really didn’t have much to do with WWII.)

efritz's avatar

“Paths of Glory” is about WWI. Also “Joyeux Noel”, but . . . eh. Can’t think of documentaries.

I think the absolute horror of the Holocaust is what keeps it in people’s memory. Also it was more recent, more people have lived through it . . . there are very few WWI veterans left.

Hydrogenbond's avatar

It’s a shame though that World War I is very foreign to many people. I personally find it more interesting to learn about than World War II, with the limited resources in comparison it’s sometimes frustrating.

joeysefika's avatar

There’s a couple of movies about the ANZAC’s (Australian, New Zealand, Army Corps) and there fight in WW1, one of these is Galipoli which is about the fight in Turkey

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@Hydrogenbond: Very much agreed. If you want to find some material that helps carry the atmosphere of the war, try Wilfred Owen’s war poetry . I know it’s not film, but you’re simply not going to find as much video on WWI as you would on WWII.

(Edit/Addition: This preference for WWII is even reflected in video games. I personally think there is huge potential for a WWI FPS, but WWII is redone and redone. This is even made fun of in an Xplay episode I once saw.)

filmfann's avatar

The Razors Edge was also a great WWI movie.

efritz's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna – yeah, it’s interesting how much Nazis have contributed to culture . . . as villains in movies.

kevbo's avatar

There was also “Flyboys”.

janbb's avatar

Attonement
Grand Illusion

filmfann's avatar

The Blue Max.

Darwin's avatar

According to Wikipedia there are at least 120 films set in and involving WW I. Bear in mind that almost everybody who fought in that war is now dead, so recent wars are more alive in our collective memories.

Also, film was in its infancy at the time of WWI so fewer films were made, and many that were have been forgotten. In addition, many of the early films were not only in black and white, they were silent films, not talkies. It’s all I can do to get my kids to watch a black and white film, but forget silent films. They simply can’t sit through them. So, obviuosly they don’t get very much play these days.

A few of the more recent ones not already mentioned include The Lost Battalion (2001), Regeneration (1997) aka Behind the Lines, My Boy Jack (2007), The Trench (1999), Darling Lili (1970), Deathwatch (2002), Company K (2004), Archangel (1990), Black and White in Color (1976), Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986) and The Curious Curse of Benjamin Button (2008).

Plus, as others have said, the Nazis make such easy bad guys, and the black and white SS uniforms with highlights of red from medals are so beautifully cinematic.

Rarebear's avatar

There are a hundreds of movies about WW2.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_films

But you’re right—not as many about WW1

ucme's avatar

Because the sequel,World War ll was much better. I hear a rumour there maybe a 3rd movie completing the trilogy, but I believe that would be a disastrous move.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@ucme: If so, it’ll have the biggest film budget ever. :-D

Hydrogenbond's avatar

Do you think it will have a budget higher than the Iraq war?!

janbb's avatar

Edit: Atonement; I didn’t have my spelling cap on yesterday.

Austinlad's avatar

“Paths of Glory” is amazing. Not only does it let us see the horrors of battle but also the politics and machanations of military leadership. Made in 1957 but quite relevant today.

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