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Jan 25 2013

The Best World War I Movies

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It came out our decision to home school. Lessons would be supplemented with cultural references from life.

This week, we moved to World War I, so I started asking friends “What are the best movies about World War I?” I got some great suggestions. Here they are in no particular order.

The African Queen. (1951) How can you go wrong with Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart? Missonary Rose Sayer (Hepburn) convinces Bogart to use his riverboat to attack a German gunboat. Bogart won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Hepburn was nominated but the Oscar went to Vivien Leigh for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Sergeant York (1941). Gary Cooper stars as Alvin York, the most-decorated American solider of World War I. Cooper won the Acadamy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film also won for Best Film Editing and was nominated in nine other categories. Alvin York was a young Tennessee hillbilly. York tried to avoid service in World War I as a conscientious objector. An excellent marksman due to his hunting skills, he is quickly promoted. York becomes a national hero and is awarded the Medal of Honor.

War Horse (2011). Steven Spielburg directs the film of War Horse, based on the Tony Award Winning play of the same name. Set in World War I it tells the story of a horse named Joe and his trainer Albert. The film isan adaptation of British author Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, also of the same name. War Horse was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It did not win in any of the categories.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 and 1979). Based on the 1929 German novel it tells the story of a German soldiers mental and physical stress during World War I. The 1930 film won the Academy Award for Outstanding Production and Best Director.

A Very Long Engagement (2004). This French romantic war film tells the story of a young woman’s desperate search for her fiancĂ© who might have been killed in the Battle of the Somme, during World War I. It was based on a novel of the same name, written by Sebastien Japrisot, first published in 1991.

The Lost Battallion (1919 and 2001). The 2001 film is a made for TV movie about the Lost Battalion of World War I. It is the story of troops deep into the Argonne Forest of France during World War I who are surrounded and cut off by German forces. The 2001 version was an A&E Original Movie.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Starring Peter O’Toole in the title role, this film is considered one of the greatest and most influential in cinematic history. The film tells the story of T.E. Lawrence and his experiences and divided allegiance in Arabia during World War I. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards of which it won six including Best Picture and Best Director.

A Farewell to Arms (1957). Based on the book by Ernest Hemming way, this movie tells the story of an affair between and English nurse and an American soldier on the Italian front during World War I. The novel was first adapted to stage by Laurence Stallings in 1930, then to film in 1932, with a 1957 remake. The 1932 version started Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. The 1957 version was the last film produced by David O. Selznick and starred Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones. Vittorio De Sica was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor but lost to Red Buttons for Sayonara.

Joyeux Noel (2005). Told through the eyes of French, Scottish and German Soldiers, this film tells the story of the 1914 Christmas truce. An unofficial truce begins on Christmas eve as Scottish soldiers begin to sing. The Christmas truce sparked a series of ceasefires along the Western Front during Christmas. Though there was no offical truce, some 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial cessations of fighting.

We’ll not likely see all of these. But if this is the way we get through history, I think I’m going to like home school.

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