The Big Parade Reviews
This was remarkable. I was astounded by how Vidor (who said beforehand he wanted to finally make a film that wouldn't simply be gone from theatres in a week, but would play on for years, and that he would put forth a much greater effort if that could be the case, especially if either about steel, wheat or war) mixed elements, emotions and atmosphere so expertly. Even though it was a first-watch, since it was a silent film I thought it would be all right to throw on the Jeffrey Vance commentary, which contained four interview snippets from Vidor, late in his life in the 1970's. It was a wonderful cinephilic experience, and the book that enclosed the blu ray release was even more telling, with tons of pictures and essays about the American landmark of silent cinema.
Who'd like it: Film buffs will surely be engrossed. If you're looking for something for action-packed, then this isn't for you.
Quite realistic for its time. Certainly doesn't glamorise war, unlike many other movies of that period would. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is an anti-war movie, but it certainly doesn't paint a glorious picture of war.
Not all good: the movie drifted in the middle. The escapades of the soldiers while in the camp in France seemed quite silly and just delayed the inevitable battle scenes.
The over-dramatic nature of silent movies also means this hasn't aged that well. The overly stereotypical characterisations of some of the soldiers, especially the hick building construction worker, was a bit over-the-top.
At the time of its release, however, it was probably revolutionary, and highly regarded.
(1925) The Big Parade
SILENT ROMANTIC DRAMA/ WAR/ COMEDY
Influential film casting thousands of extras of a war, setting up an ambitious love story between a rookie soldier and a French girl. The time is during WW I when France were fighting against the Germans which Hitler wasn't in power yet which to me serves nothing but a backdrop to this love story that evolved upon the main star residing camp in some French countryside. It's called "The Big Parade" because there's a parade when the soldiers go off to war and then another parade upon the soldiers coming back. Some of the nuances work while others don't. I said that the film was influential because they're some existing scenes are identically similar to what one can often find in David Lean movies as well as other war movies that include love couples departing to go to war, particularly the part when the French girl tries to find her love interest off just to see him for the very last time while many soldiers are marching past her. I've only seen the 2 hour version from "Turner Classic Movies" channel which the original running time was supposed to be 2 hours and 20 minutes and felt that near the end was cut a little too short.
For the time being I'm giving this
3 out of 4 stars
The story focuses on three American doughboys, fighting in Europe during WWI. Two are working class; a tobacco spitting riveter, Slim, a barkeep, Bull, and a ne'er-do-well son of wealth, Jim, who was shamed into enlisting by his family. These three go through the hardships of military training together, bond, and become fast friends. Their friendships deepen after they are shipped to France where Jim falls in love with a French farm girl. This comprises the first half of the 2 1/2 hour movie. The second half of the movie is the gritty reality of trench warfare.
Some say that this is one of the first big-budget anti-war movies. I'd take issue with that, but the film does show the human cost of war without condemning it outright. Remember that WWI was 'the war to end all wars', and in 1925 this was still a possibility. But "The Big Parade" does take an unflinching look at the affect of war on both combatants and non-combatants.
The performances and direction are excellent and silent or not, this is a movie well worth seeing.
In my humble opinion, American audiences have never accepted unconventional films as great ones until decades later. As weird and shocking Vidor's technique of splitting the movie in two was, it was still a giant financial success, and highly effective plot-wise. The problem is (and I beg you to keep in mind) the following: everything that The Big Parade features, you have already seen it. However, it acquires a meaning. Really.
A wonderfully shot silent film that shows the devastation and horrors of war even better than most modern day war epics.
John Gilbert stars as the son of a wealthy elitist. He joins the army and goes into World War I. He is sent to France where he falls for a frenchwoman while also becoming friends with two working-class soldiers.
The battle scenes are spectacularly done and the emotions are overpowering.