A gripping and shocking documentary composed of numerous colorized archive footage. Apocalypse: Verdun takes us to the infamous and bloody battle of Verdun that occurred in February 1916, when World War I had been raging for two years.
Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms.
The German troops are entering the Meuse. The French soldier calmly awaits the shock. All the villages have been evacuated; wives have been torn apart from their husbands, who stay to defend the land the old farmer won't abandon. The German offensive takes place on February 21st, 1916. Following intense bombing from 7.15 am to 5 pm, flocks of German soldiers dash through the bois des Caures.
it's hard to believe that this film was made in 1928. the photography is outstanding. the print was sharp. and the music (played by a live pianist in this case) is utterly sublime. the special effects are extremely well done, with a variety of explosions (ok, a huge variety of explosions), ghostly images, scenery (the french countryside as a moonscape of craters and splintered trees) and graphic maps that would work nicely in a film created today.
considering that this is essentially a documentary/re-enactment of the now nearly-forgotten world war one trench battle of verdun, it is surprisingly engrossing material. the presence of several fictionalized characters fighting through the battle helps hold interest as opposed to a dry, third-person telling. it has a pro-french slant (it is a french film, after all), but the Germans are presented sympathetically.
i understand that this film has been "lost" for years, with a print recently reconstructed from footage found in a moscow film archives (the Germans took the original during ww2 & the russians subsequently took it from them later in the war) and it has only been shown a handful of times, though a DVD is coming soon. if the opportunity presents, see this movie. the music alone is reason enough, but pair that with the images on screen and it's amazing.
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