1910s World War I Films of the Silent Era (1917/1975/2002)

Published on October 20th, 2010 | by Chris

0

World War I Films of the Silent Era (1917/1975/2002)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On October 20, 2010
Last modified:October 4, 2012

Summary:

1917. The "war to end all wars" is raging on in Europe. The brand new technology of the motion picture is just coming into its own.... Combine the two, and you get an interesting snapshot of history

World War I Films of the Silent Era (1917/1975/2002)1917.  The "war to end all wars" is raging on in Europe.  The brand new technology of the motion picture is just coming into its own....  Combine the two, and you get an interesting snapshot of history.

Unlike the previously reviewed Civil War Films of the Silent Era, which approached the Civil War with a bit more romantic bend, and a lot of hindsight, "WWI Films" delivers a view, for the first time, of a current conflict in moving pictures.  On this disc are four separate features...

"Fighting the Great War (1916)" takes us into the Trenches and gives a look at the men and the means of the war.  Likely one of the first true war documentaries, its certainly interesting.

"The Log of the U-35 (1917)" is 100% authentic footage taken on board a German submarine, and mostly documents the ship-sinking exploits of the crew.

"The Secret Game (1917)" is sort of the odd-man out here, a tale of espionage and intrigue as a Japanese diplomat helps the Americans root out the German spies among us.  I think I understand why it was included, as its certainly ironic to see the Japanese portrayed in such an honorable light, only to be roasted over the coals some 25-odd years later.  But its also interesting to see the "state of the art" in the spy game of the time.  Disappearing inks, code books, the usual stuff.  Interesting, but there surely must be better material to put here.

The last is the 1975 compilation, "The Moving Picture Boys in the Great War", which is just that, a compilation of bits and pieces which sort of chronicles the role of film in the war.

Honestly?  I thought "Civil War Films" was the much better entry of the two.  The two documentaries were certainly interesting, and would have been received by audiences with curiosity, both at the thought of seeing what's going on a world away, and at the new moving picture gizmo....  But the other two just didn't quite do it for me.  The Secret Game in particular.  I dunno, I just didn't quite see the point, other than it was a contemporary piece only tangentially related to the war.

Something else that bothered me, both here and in "Civil War Films" was the soundtrack.  It was obviously a computer-generated track, having that "midi" quality to it, and I would have liked to have heard maybe just a simple piano track, or even an honest period recording....  Just a nitpick I know, but still.

If you're interested in the history of war movies at all, or in WWI history, then I suggest you check this out, you probably won't be disappointed.  But generally speaking I could have gone without....

and I simply can NOT find any of the pieces of this compilation to embed here, which is a shame!!!  Sorry! If I come across any I'll edit this post to include them.

World War I Films of the Silent Era World War I Films of the Silent Era
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Description

The rare fiction and nonfiction films in this compilation offer a time-capsule glimpse of World War I from a variety of fascinating angles. "The Great War" (1914-18) was the first to be extensively recorded by motion picture cameras, and the societal impact of film is keenly evident throughout this international selection...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Image Entertainment
Manufacturer: Image Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Charles Ogle
  • Jack Holt
  • Florence Vidor
  • Sessue Hayakawa

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and entertaining collection of films, July 9, 2005
By 
Barbara Underwood (Tumut, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World War I Films of the Silent Era (DVD)
This is a very good DVD produced by David Shepard - who has given us many other excellent silent films of all sorts - and it contains four different films: a documentary, a feature film ("The Secret Game") from 1917 and two films of authentic footage from World War I. Although I usually prefer a good silent drama, I still found the first two films of actual war footage quite interesting, and no doubt they would also appeal to the general history buff. The first film, "Fighting the War" gives an overview and insight into the battles, equipment and conditions facing WWI soldiers, and I preferred this one to the second, which focuses more on the exploits of a German U-Boat in the Mediterranean. After a while it became just a little tedious seeing one cruiser, steamer or other vessel being sunk after another, but it still has its appeal and some fascination due to the authentic footage, and the film quality of both these films is very good. They also have an excellent musical score by... Read more
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4.0 out of 5 stars history of the "Silent" Service, June 10, 2014
By 
Robert A. Dahmes (New Orleans, LA, USA) - See all my reviews
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An important film to see from a propaganda standpoint as the U-boat stops all targets, removes captain, crew and passengers and only then sinks the ship. A "gentlemen's war" which later turned savage.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More From William C. de Mille., December 10, 2005
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: World War I Films of the Silent Era (DVD)
Having recently watched and reviewed MISS LULU BETT and being impressed with the job done by William C. de Mille (1878-1955), I went back and revisited THE SECRET GAME from this 2001 collection as it is the only other readily available film from Cecil B's older brother (Cecil was born in 1881 and died in 1959).

Although clearly made as propaganda after America's entry into World War I, THE SECRET GAME is a well made little espionage feature with solid performances from the principals in the cast. Top acting honors go to Sessue Hayakawa which is not surprising as this film was made as a star vehicle for him. He was at the height of his U.S. stardom at this time having created a sensation in brother Cecil's THE CHEAT two years earlier. Veteran silent performer Charles Ogle (he was the monster in Edison's 1910 version of FRANKENSTEIN) is fun to watch as the German agent Dr "Smith". He chews the scenery but does it in a restrained and dignified manner. The direction of William... Read more
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World War I Films of the Silent Era (1917/1975/2002) Chris

Summary: 1917. The "war to end all wars" is raging on in Europe. The brand new technology of the motion picture is just coming into its own.... Combine the two, and you get an interesting snapshot of history

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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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