The Great War - 1964 - 9/10
Grandfather of war documentaries and one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
At a whopping 26 episodes, this is thorough, well researched, and fair minded.
In 1964 many veterans of World War I still survived and they spoke throughout.
Officer aides, footsoldiers, villagers. English, French, Germans, Austrians, Australians, Turks . . .
Minor shortcoming is that few of the interviewees are identified.
Mountains of newsreel footage, campaign maps and strategies. Surprise victories, bitter defeats.
Initial episodes are not even battle related, but background history and events leading up to conflict.
We are still in the 100 year anniversary of WWI; this documentary shows how easy it is to slip into wars, all flag waving and shouting, and how difficult it becomes to get out of them.
Resentments, alliances, race hatred. Realities true during Caesar’s and Napoleon’s era, resonate today.
Several years in, World War I becomes one of attrition, deprivation and endurance.
On both sides, on-leave soldiers grasp how civilians, far removed behind the lines, no longer care about the war nor the soldiers bleeding and dying in miserable trenches, who stand forgotten. Much as today.