WWI in Motion Picture: From “Wings” to “War Horse”

WWI in Motion Picture
WWI in Motion Picture

WWI in Motion Picture
WWI in Motion Picture

WWI had been adapted in motion picture many times and has left a lasting impression in the silver screen. From the 1927 Oscar-winning silent film to Spielberg’s 2011 blockbuster, here are the motion picture interpretations of the First World War.

1. Wings (1927)

“Wings”, a 1927 silent film about two WWI fighter pilot friends who were romantically involved with one woman, was a film of firsts — it was WWI-era motion picture, was the first movie to win the Oscars for the best film category in the first Academy Awards in 1929 and was the only silent film to ever win that accolade.

It was also the motion picture which launched Gary Cooper’s career in Hollywood though he only played a minor role in it.

2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

A US motion picture with an anti-war theme, “All Quiet on the Western Front” focused on the results the First World War wrought on the young boys who participated in it – disillusionment. The movie was based on a book authored by Erich Maria Remarque.

3. Sergeant York (1941)

this US biographical movie told the story of Alvin York, a country boy, who became a WWI hero all thanks to his remarkable marksmanship. Gary Cooper starred in the motion picture as the lead character and won himself an Oscar for it.

4. Paths of Glory (1957)

“The Paths of Glory” was based on a novel of the same title written by Humphrey Cobb and is critically acclaimed as the most powerful anti-war US motion picture ever produced.

It centered on the story of four French WWI soldiers who were executed to set as an example to the rest of their comrades when they refused to do an impossible attack. The movie, which starred Kirk Douglas, highlighted the fruitlessness of war.

5. Lawrence of Arabia (1967)

Acclaimed by critics as a “cinematic legend”, “Lawrence of Arabia” is a British epic adventure-drama motion picture hailed by some as one of the most influential movies in movie history.

The film is, in actuality, a bio-pic of WWI serviceman T.E. Lawrence (played by British actor Peter O’Toole) and the role he played in the French-British plan to to turn Arabs against the rule of the Turks.

6. Gallipoli (1981)

This Australian WWI motion picture is in essence the Australian representation of the struggles Australia experienced during WWI.

Starring a young Mel Gibson and Mark Lee in the lead roles, it detailed the journeys of two young Australians as they enlisted in the army, were shipped to Gallipoli and how they suffered in the fateful Battle of the Nek, the campaign where Australia suffered so much loss fighting against the Ottomans.

7. In Love and War (1967)

This US WWI-era romantic motion picture was derived from the real-life experience of well-known American writer Ernest Hemingway as an ambulance driver during WWI.

Chris O’Donnell played Hemingway’s character and his lady love, a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky, was played by actress Sandra Bullock.

8. Joyeux Noel (2005)

This French-produced motion picture looks back on that one fateful Christmas in 1914 when Germans, French and Scots all reached a truce for the sake of the holidays – the famous WWI Christmas Truce where the soldiers played a football match with each other.

Starring Daniel Brühl and DianeKruger, the movie was nominated “Best Foreign Language Film” in both the OScars and the Golden Globe.

9. Red Baron (2008)

This 2008 German motion picture retells the story of famous German WWI pilot Manfred von Richthofen portrayed by German actor Matthias Schweighöfer.

The movie was filmed using English as its language to increase its marketability in the movie industry.

10. War Horse (2011)

It is hard to believe this Steven Spielberg blockbuster motion picture was based from a 1982 children’s book.

War drama “War Horse” retells the story of a young lad, Albert, and the friendship he had with his horse Joey. When the horse got sold to cavalry, Albert voluntarily enlisted to be a WWI soldier and went on in a trans-national journey throughout Europe.

Any WWI movies we might have missed?

DW reports

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE