War in Films (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Pioneering filmmakers recognized immediately that motion pictures could present moments of dramatic action in ways that imaginatively transported an audience to regions, eras, and aspects of experience beyond the limits of their lives. Early single- reel films depended on the novelty of depicting moments of action without a developed narrative, but by end of the first decade of the twentieth century, films such as the Italian La caduta di Troia (1910; The Fall of Troy, 1910), several films by Swedish director Georg af Klercker, and, most significantly, D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) had begun to realize the compelling power of sequences presenting masses of men at arms clashing on fields of battle. Griffith’s cinematographer Billy Bitzer developed a technique using long shots that conveyed the epic sweep of a major battle. Griffith’s method of cross-cutting between these panoramic shots and closeups of fighting individuals demonstrated how engrossing such scenes could be. Although neither the United States nor Western Europe—the leaders in film production in the first years of the silent cinema—were involved in wars, audiences were fascinated by films that dealt with strife in prior decades.
World War I
The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 radically transformed the film industry on the continent. Before the inception of hostilities, Belgian filmmaker Alfred Machin directed Maudite...
(The entire section is 2280 words.)
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