Tag Archives: Great War

Review: 37 Days (film)

37 Days.

The Kaiser is portrayed reasonably well, so far as his erratic and manipulative personality is concerned. General Moltke is given much more strength of character than he really had. A few minor male and female characters were inserted to help move the plot along, and perhaps to help female viewers feel more interested in the story, although there were no important roles for women during the actual crisis (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

This film suffers from the fact that on a great many of those 37 days before the war broke out, absolutely nothing happened. And because most of what did happen occurred during conversations – interpersonal or around a conference table – there’s not much action: it’s pretty much a talking-head history recitation, in costume. We do get a good approximation of the intricacies of politics and diplomacy. Predictably, we are treated to the “lights going out” speech, at the end.

Not bad, for a fairly lightweight retelling of history.


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Review: German Posters in Belgium (Davignon)

German Posters in Belgium: Their Value as Evidence.

There are two copies of this book listed at The Internet Archive, but I happen to be fortunate enough to own an original, which I handle only when wearing white gloves. It’s bound in a paper cover, my copy of which is more darkly discolored than the one pictured above, and it has considerable damage to the spine, which has loosened some pages, but otherwise, the interior is in excellent condition, for a century-old publication.

The book features reproductions of posters and other documents relating to the invasion, occupation, and German atrocities committed in Belgium in August, 1914. Some exhibits are reproduced as photographs, which suffer from the limitations of the technology of the day, but still remain valuable research resources. Each poster is accompanied by a translation, as well as transcriptions of related documents and period commentary.

The Foreword by the compiler communicates the depth of feeling experienced by the people who were close to the action, and whose sense of outrage lay behind much of the rationale for the Versailles Treaty. These documents constituted proof positive of German villainy and propaganda during the invasion and violation of Belgium. A detailed table of contents guides the reader to each exhibit.

The collection makes a fine original-research companion to the exhaustive analysis that went into the writing of German Atrocities, 1914: A History of Denial.


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Review: 100 Years of WWI (video)

100 Years of WWI.

A documentary set produced by the History Channel, this 2-disc video attacks the subject topically rather than chronologically. The theme is the technology that drove the war and arose from it.

The presentation suffers quite a bit from repetitious images and scenes (as all First World War documentaries do, to some degree), but it supplies some unique period footage along with the iconic scenes, most of which have been restored to excellent viewing condition. One of its strengths is that the almost obligatory re-enactments, featuring live action as well as computer-generated graphics, are filmed in either monochrome shades of grey or in sepia tones, and are seamlessly integrated with the historical footage. It also features reasonably well-executed, color-coded map sequences, and professional narration between interviews with various historians and voice-over readings of quotes from the war’s participants.

As a well-done, detailed examination of the technological execution of the Great War, I recommend this video for researchers and general audiences.

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