Films about World War I, such as “1917" with Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, provided filmmakers with plenty of downbeat inspiration, especially when compared with films about World War II. (François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures)
Why World War I films, like ‘1917,’ have a different feel than those about WWII
By Lewis Beale
via the Los Angeles Times (CA) newspaper web site
Director Sam Mendes’ new film, “1917,” tells the story of two men on a mission to save 1,600 British soldiers from being slaughtered by German forces leading them into a trap. But in its own way, it’s every World War I movie in microcosm: the trenches, the scarred battlefields, the rats, the gruesome deaths, the utter futility of a conflict fought over minuscule pieces of land; a war that seems to make no sense, despite the heroism of its combatants.
“The First World War is the beginning of modern warfare,” says Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote the “1917” screenplay with Mendes. “It began with cavalry, horses and men in pristine, brightly colored uniforms, and it ends in tanks, aerial warfare, machine guns, chemical weapons and mud. Millions died over inches of ground.”
That seemingly pointless conflict has, nevertheless, provided filmmakers with plenty of downbeat inspiration, especially when compared with films about World War II.
World War I “allows you to tell a particular kind of war story,” says Mark Sheftall, a Bucknell University history professor who teaches courses on global warfare. “Because of the way people understand World War I, setting a movie in it tells you about the horrors of war, the futility; you can tell it as a tragedy, as disillusion. And people go, ‘Yes, war is like that.’
“Whereas World War II, that’s a story of victory, it’s the horrors and all that stuff, but typically the outcome is victory. You look for a positive resolution that can justify all that sacrifice, but you don’t have that in World War I.”
Read more: Why World War I films, like ‘1917,’ have a different feel than those about WWII
Daughters of the American Revolution member Elizabeth Clodfelter, 101 years old, leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the dedication ceremony for the new Argonne Bridge World War I Memorial in Spokane, WA on November 11, 2019.
Spokane community unites to restore World War I Memorial bridge
By Rae Anna Victor
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site
Spokane Argonne Bridge World War I MemorialHere in Spokane. WA, we raised nearly $20,000 and dedicated the Argonne World War I Memorial on Veterans Day 2019. Hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony. We had an honor guard do the Bells of Peace Ceremony and the Marines do the flag salute, rifle volley, and taps. The 12 foot x 10 foot memorial features the names of the soldiers who died in the war from Spokane County, an original Doughboy hat, an eagle on a light post, and the story of the Argonne Offensive.
This was an incredible project. Here is how it happened:
Originally, five bronze plaques adorned the Argonne Bridge in Millwood; the bridge was named for the Argonne Meuse Offensive of World War I, and was dedicated on Veteran’s Day 1920. When the bridge was redone in the 70s, the plaques disappeared. Two have been recovered. The three with the names of the over 200 soldiers who lost their lives in World War I were not.
Months ago, I was chatting with local historian Chuck King. We have worked together on several historical projects. We talked about how sad it was that the plaques had been taken off the Argonne Bridge because now hardly anyone knew the origins of the name. Both of us agreed that it needed to be rectified and I said it might be a project my Jonas Babcock Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution chapter (DAR) would take on.
We kicked around several ideas. In 1970, when the bridge was redone, the dedication plaques were removed. I had heard that one the original bronze plaques was in the county roads office downtown, and that another had been donated to the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. The two plaques that contained the names of all the soldiers who died in the war had disappeared.
Read more: Spokane community unites to restore World War I Memorial bridge