|Index||6 reviews in total|
I certainly enjoyed it and found it on the obscure "Military Channel". Growing up in the 60s there was a steady stream of historical films about Pasteur, Reuters, Marconi that went totally over my head. I can recall endless medieval films on cold Sunday afternoons where i couldn't wait to have the channel turned. NOw as an adult I cherish gems such as this, where they took character actors(what good would Richard Gere have done as Woodrow Wilson)and had them act out the true life events of the time, interspersed with real footage. It amazed me to see Ho Chi Migh trying to get an audience with Wilson to get the French out of Indochina- how those two would intersect blew me away. WWI veterans dominated the world up to the mid 60's(Eisenhower, Churchill, Macarthur, etc.) so they went from the horse age to the space age. Ifthey really said what was said about a weakened Germany would be ripe for a demagogue then it just shows how important the study of history is. All in all a treasure
This docudrama with both archival footage and drama tells the story of the peace talks in Paris in 1919 at the end of WWI which ended in the Treaty of Versailles. WWI was truly a world war and at the end dozens of nations wanted reparations or a piece of the spoils. They all convened in Paris for what they thought would be a 3-4 week conference to settle all the post war divisions. Nations' borders were being redrawn and people groups were being shuffled around like livestock. To Paris came kings and queens and caliphs and emirs and THEN the deity, Woodrow Wilson. The United States had entered the war and ended the war so everyone looked to the U.S. for answers and Woodrow Wilson was godlike, at least in the beginning. A large conference room was set up where nations could present their case in front of the representatives from Japan, Italy, Great Britain, France and Woodrow Wilson (U.S.). Japan was eliminated from the group after a short time and Italy had little influence in the end. This is a well done summary of a behind the scenes look at the Paris Peace Conference which stretched on for six months as countries jockeyed for position on the world scene, unknowingly setting the stage for WWII as they punished Germany into the ground, creating a backlash that produced evil like the world had never known and thought impossible. Even today we see and feel the effects of this peace treaty which spawned the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations and the brainchild of Woodrow Wilson. Another slice of history which helps to understand the world we live in today.
The importance of this "virtual documentary" is a factual basis of the events over a year, with excellent portrayals of the leaders of the "winning" side in the First World War, although I use the conclusion that there were any winners rather loosely as the film so accurately portrays. The three most influential World leaders were Clemanceau of France, Lloyd-George of the English and the ill-fated President of the U.S. in Woodrow Wilson. In spite of the "10" rating which I have given, there are points of interest that I would have wished more emphasis. Short shrift was given to the "Map Makers" in the very beginning....those men assigned (obviously with the input of the leaders), who contributed greatly to future disasters in the Balkans, Yugoslavia and even in the Rhineland area of Germany where I spent three years in the military over fifty years ago and witnessed in many extensive travels, the travails resulting from the lack of foresight of said leaders who set Germany up for the arrival of Adolf Hitler by the monstrosity of their dismantling of a once proud nation led astray by that very same family of Royalty that led such diverse countries as England and Russia. Nevertheless, this is a Must See by younger generations who have no concept of the damage done in Paris leading to (twenty years later) a 1000 day occupation of this most lovely of cities and the irony of Hitler forcing a French surrender at Versailles in the same rail car used by the French to humiliate the German people who were fortunate to be untouched by the war itself while France suffered horrendously from the seemingly never ending trench warfare. Please understand that neither this film, nor I can defend the atrocities such as the first use of Poison Gas by the Germans, nor is it the purpose of the film to recreate the four years of horror on the fields of France and nearby neighbors, but an understanding of those three men and the many others who insisted that Germany pay dearly for their misdeeds. And the unseen Kaiser Wilhelm in his vanity is another flaw but of a minor key in subsequent historical impact that would all to soon engulf the entire World in yet another horror story. And to see the impact first hand will linger the few years that will be left to me to give witness to such tragedy. Tadeo38 in sad remembrance.
It's 1919. Two months after armistice, world leaders are gathering in
Paris to hammer out the peace. Everyone has demands. Prime Minister of
France Georges Clemenceau wants retribution. Hardline British Prime
Minister David Lloyd George was just voted in. Italian leader Orlando
needs a port and faces Fascists back home. The Japanese want
territories from China. American President Woodrow Wilson wants the
League of Nations as he tries to ameliorate the vast conflicting
demands from the world. When the German delegation is finally allowed
to come, they are shocked by the peace treaty demands and the question
remains whether the Germans will sign.
Adapted from the Margaret MacMillan book, this is a surprisingly thrilling history documentary. It's reminiscent of the Ken Burns style. In fact, I prefer not to have the reenactments of the leaders. It's better to have those narrations with the old pictures. Even with the expected outcome, there is a drama and political intrigue that is truly fascinating.
Paul Cowan is a Canadian filmmaker who has made a magnificent contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the events of 1919 which continue to haunt our world today. Everyone who wants to understand 2014 should watch this film about 1919 to see what went wrong and what remains wrong with the world we live in. The sad fact is that World War One is still going on, and if we remain perversely ignorant of that fact, we do ourselves no favours. This is one of those films which should be shown in all schools, but of course it will be shown in none, so impervious to imagination are the educational authorities these days in our ossified and inflexible educational 'establishments'. (The educational establishments of 2014 are as idiotic as the politicians of 1919, and perhaps even more so.) Because this film was produced in Canada, it was shot in both French and English, so there are two different language versions of the same film, both available on the same DVD. The film has won some international awards, which were well deserved. I hope that the French are watching it. The subject of the film is the Paris Peace Conference which dragged on for months in 1919, collapsing in a heap at the end, with one of its more immediate consequences being the rise of Benito Mussolini in Italy, a development which could so very easily have been averted if the 'big four' leaders in Paris had not been such fools. And, as is well known, the worst result of the failure of this conference was the eventual rise of Hitler. That too could have been avoided. But then, to avoid things takes brains, and brains were in short supply at the Paris Conference. The greatest fool of all was the absurdly vain and stupid Woodrow Wilson, who bears the main responsibility for the train wreck of Europe which followed. He was unfit to be President of the United States, but then how many American presidents have been? Few are the leaders in history who were up to the jobs they found themselves in. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the human species is its perennial inability to find decent and intelligent people to hold positions of power. 'Nice people' don't want power, that is part of the problem. And of some of those who do, like Wilson, they often turn out to be worse idiots than the rogues. This film brilliantly blends together a mass of excellent quality archival footage with tastefully staged reconstructions. We really feel we are there and witnessing what actually happened. The actors Jean-Gabriel Nordmann as Clemenceau and Vincent Lo Monaco as Vittorio Orlando the Italian Prime Minister are outstanding. One strange omission from the film is any mention whatever of the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, though the creation of Iraq and the presence at Paris of the future King Faisal of Iraq are given prominence. The film is based upon the book PEACEMAKERS by the Canadian historian Professor Mary MacMillan, whose great-grandfather was Lloyd George, and who is portrayed in the film by Nicholas Hawtrey. MacMillan also was an adviser to the production. This film is such a magnificent history lesson, and evokes the peace conference so powerfully, that it cannot be recommended highly enough. It is now five years since Paul Cowan made this wonderful film, and since then he has not followed it with another. Let us hope that something marvellous is currently in gestation and that before long he will surprise us.
The negotiations and the peace treaty that ended the first world war
were one of the most important historical events of the 20th century.
There are surprisingly little documentary films made about this event,
despite the fact that it was one of the first well photographed and
audio recorded extravaganza in history. A documentary about this event
is of high interest for everybody who is interested in history or
politics, but 'Paris 1919' deeply disappointed me.
It is not that there was not enough screen time - at around 90 minutes the film is the average length of a fiction film length, but yet there is surprisingly little information in 'Paris 1919'. At start after a good introduction of the events that ended the war in November 1918, the film fails to introduce properly the principal characters of the political drama it describes - the leaders of the nations engaged in negotiations, their background and personalities. It is left to the actors to bring these personalities to screen, but the docu-drama part is flatly acted, the leaders have no personalities, but just declaim historical memories or meeting minutes text without feelings or any personal characterization. It would have been much better to leave all this acting stuff out, there is enough filmed material, and photos or documents would have given a better image of the events.
Worse is the informational part. While the film focuses on the conflict between Germany on one side, England, France and the US on the other, and the issue of the amount of reparations, all other aspects of the peace conference are almost completely left out or mentioned in one or two phrases that make bad service to history. At Paris in 1919 have been drawn the borders of Europe for the rest of the century or longer, here lie the origins of the Balkan and Middle East conflicts. Nothing or almost nothing is said about those. The fate and positions of countries like Turkey and especially the Bolshevik Russia (who did not participate in the negotiations but was in the minds of all participants) are not mentioned at all.
'Paris 1919' is a bad documentary about an important event. Who ever wants to learn about it should rather read books like the one authored by Margaret McMillan. As it stands somebody knows nothing or too little about the peace negotiations that ended the Great War risks to be highly confused by seeing this film, and somebody who does know something about the historical events will learn nothing new from the film.
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