04-07-2005, 11:09 PM
A fine example of 1920s cinema depiction of WWI that shows the harsh aspects of war without barely anything glamourous and sentlemental about it. One of my favorite films from the decade of the 20s and favorite war films that still holds up well today because of the realistic nature of the battle scenes. It is interesting to follow the trek of the main character from excited youth, willing to fight for his country because of a romantic notion he has to coming home disillusioned, finding that his love has married his brother(not to mentioned he has come home minus a leg). The transformation of Jim Appleson is portrayed in a way that is touching and powerful by John Gilbert. Does a good job in changing tones from the almost comic aspects of the first half to the grim, in your face realities of the second half. The scenes in the trenches are done in a way that shows what the characters are up against and the chance of death hitting at any moment. Reminds me of the way that writers like Bierce or Babel dealt with the subject of war and the unromantic and realistic element they gave their war stories. The romantic subplot is a very good aspect that is treated as a counterpoint to the battle scenes. Well directed with good moments of camera moment and stillness.