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In 1918 after four tears of unimaginable attritional warfare and with more and more reinforcements arriving from America Germany was on the brink of collapse . People were starving on the streets and another winter would have probably seen Germany descend in to revolution as seen in Russia the previous year . Mindful of this German military leaders launched a Spring of offensive with the aim of knocking out the British , capturing Paris and ending the war before American reinforcements became a major factor . After initial tactical success the Germans failed to capture the major communication centre at Amiens . The allies rallied their forces and counterattacked in the one hundred days offensive that saw the Germans unconditionally sign an armistice . The cost of victory wasn't cheap with the British army in 1918 suffering more dead than it did during the entire second world war
History is a very strange thing . We tend to look back on things with a mind set that only exists in the present time . Revisionists tend to paint a picture that the First World War was bad and the Second World War was good but in reality there's little difference between Imperial Germany invading Belgium in 1914 and Nazi Germany invading Poland in 1939 . Certainly there wouldn't be much difference in a British Tommy's way of thinking in the fields of France in 1918 to that of 1944 . The anti-warsentiment given to the First World War , of bungling butchers such as General Haig sending thousands of young men to their death wasn't untrue but certainly wasn't a uniquely British trait and in the one hundred days offensive the British army killed , wounded and captured more Germans than the French , American and Belgian armies combined
A former veteran of the First World War director James Whale brings the 1928 stageplay by RC Sheriff to the big screen and does it very well . Certainly it can't be described as " pro-war " but neither does it descend in to revisionist anti-war cliché . Public school boy officers actually had a lower life expectancy than working class men and if you don't believe me take a look at your local war memorial where the ranks of the fallen are given that confirm that the carnage brought upon a generation of men was an egalitarian horror wrought upon all classes . There's an honesty to JOURNEY'S END that is rarely seen in media that has 1914-18 as its theme
At this point it's needed to point out the homosexual subtext of the film - there is none . Yes Whale was homosexual and because of this critics will scrutinise every single line and scene . The closeness of the characters and the paternalism of the Uncle figure mirrors the real life camaraderie of soldiers in combat and is not to be read as any type of comment on the love that dare not speak its name . The characters will also surprise a 21st Century anti-war audience as they get hung up on seemingly frivolous subjects but as a great many contemporary accounts from the conflict agree the worst thing about the war wasn't dealt out by shells , bullets and bayonet from the enemy but the food from their own side
From a technical point of view the film is sometimes limited and for long segments it is rather obvious that its genesis was in theatre but Whale does manage to make the battle scenes appear cinematic . It's also impossible to not mention that this the movie that caused the director to move to America use the superior sound facilities of Hollywood and decided to stay in the country where he made FRANKENSTEIN , THE OLD DARK HOUSE and THE INVISIBLE MAN all classic genre films fondly remembered today and all of which are down to James Whale working on this film . It's such a pity JOURNEY'S END remains such an obscure film which has only had seven comments so far and is never shown on network television . It should be essential viewing in history classes dealing with the Great War
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