The beginnings shows men signing up and then being mustered into the armed services of the British Empire and then we get into the true artistic vision of the film. Footage from the battlefield remastered colorized and then set to modern speed as the many soldiers who fought on the western front during that war spoke to us about their experiences.
When I think of silent film often my mind is of people walking around like penguins. How the people move in those early films for my eyes aren't normal motion. Sometimes its the technology of the time also as when cinematographers shoot the moving pictures they're using a hand-cranked camera. Sometimes it might be faster or slower.
The director Peter Jackson - many of you may know him from Lord of the Rings - gives us a featurette at the end of the movie about the process of directing the film. It's absolutely fascinating how much work they did to make this movie. To integrate old interviews with the many soldiers who served on the western front with the century old footage.
It's not an academic look at the war - this is a history film for non-historians. Perhaps someone who saw this movie had relatives who fought in this conflict. My own family had their own connections to the conflict who went to Europe once America declared war on the German Empire. All the same the film allows those old vets who recorded their interviews during the course of the mid 20th century to share their thoughts about the war and why they served and their experiences.
We hear a lot of men say they had a job to do they were professionals and they did it. Some said they had nothing going on at home so they signed up. It wasn't uncommon also to be caught up in patriotic fervor. Some still admitted they were too young to serve but were accepted anyway for service.
What's strikingly familiar with these WW1 vets is that once they got home from the western front, most Brits were ready to turn the page from this conflict. They might have been happy that the vets in their family returned home, but they just seemed to want to forget about the war. I could say it might've been similar to the experience of Vietnam veterans once that conflict drew to a close.
As much as the British citizens were glad that the war was finally over it was all for naught. As history records the harsh treatment of the former German Empire which suffered a change in regime and other economic hardships as a result of a treaty that formally ended the war only lead to another world war. The supposed war to end all wars, didn't do the job unfortunately.