Les Croix de bois (Wooden Crosses) (1932)
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as Gilbert Demachy
as Caporal Breval
as Le Capitaine
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No matter how well intentioned socially conscious movies may be, they have a tendency to age very badly due to societal norms constantly shifting.(So, relax, those of you who hate "Crash."(2005)) For example, look at the topic of gay marriage. Were we even discussing this ten years ago?
War in all of its lunacy and immense waste of human life is sadly the exception. And that is even taking in consideration how much warfare has changed since the gritty "Wooden Crosses" was made in 1932. It starts on a giddy note, as the French populace is excited at the prospect of going to war against Germany in World War I. The movie focuses on one of the enlistees, Gilbert Demachy(Pierre Blanchar), a law student, as he fights alongside a group of other soldiers. As time wears on, their high spirits wane as conditions get increasingly worse and the casualties mount. Oh and did I mention the lice? That is nothing compared to the knocking the soldiers hear which can only mean the Germans are tunneling under them to place a mine. As bad as that may sound, I have rarely seen anything as agonizing as the ending. There can be little worse than that.
(Originally reviewed in the blog section on February 27, 2009.)
Wonderful French war movie. One of the greatest. Tough, stripped of that humane touch that modern war movie try to develop. Yet, you'll never be quite as disgusted by war as during the mine episode when a platoon has to hold a position for hours knowing full-well that the enemy has put tons of explosives underneath and is about to blow it up. Brilliant, just hope we'd be able to make such wonderful movies nowadays.
Here's my deal. World War I was a dumb war. Years of history classes and it keeps coming back. There should have been some better planning.
This is an extremely gorgeous movie that kinda suffers only from the fact that it is more of a chronicle of the harshness of war rather than focusing on a single character. But the overlays and the memory sequences make this movie worth watching if nothing else.
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