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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Most technically accurate WWI film?


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My decidedly anorak-like contribution to the "Island at War" thread made me think about this one....which WWI movie do forum members think was the most accurate in terms of technical detail. Leaving aside the plot, acting or political/social bias of the script, which ones get your vote when it comes to accuracy of uniforms, weapons, trench systems, etc.

I suppose the movies made in the 1920s and 30s must be strong contenders, in that most of the props used were actually WWI vintage. Pabst's "Westfront 1918" features not only original uniforms and weapons, but also many veterans as extras. Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front" used a lot of original WWI German kit (he typed, drooling...) and even employed an ex-German NCO as set dresser/costumer to add an authentic touch. He also cast German veterans living in the USA as extras -in the famous wire-laying scene one of the soldiers had done exactly that under fire. It can be no accident that I've seen what is actually footage from these two movies being shown as genuine WWI film in several TV documentaries.

What about more recent efforts....any ideas?



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Certainly "All Quiet...", the original version, would be a very strong contender. For anyone really interested in this film there is an essential book 'Filming All Quiet on the Western Front' by Andrew Kelly. Not only is it a superb insight into the making and history of the film it also covers the politics and censorship and gives many facts and figures on the equipment used and construction of the sets. According to Kelly, Universal purchased 250 sets of full original equipment (uniforms, rifles, gasmasks, mess kits etc) and employed a veteran Canadian Officer for set design.

I think the film is a masterpiece, the attack and counter-attack scenes are easily the 'Saving Private Ryan' of their day bringing home the horror and sometime futility of the war. I still find the scene where Baumer has to spend a night in a shellhole with a slowly dying Poilu whom he has stabbed truly disturbing.

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