This review also appears at Earthpages.org
Many find it hard to understand just how much The Great War of 1914 to 1918, now called World War I, disrupted the global order.
We all know it happened. But reel after reel of haunting World War II films shot from 1939 to 1945 have, to some extent, eclipsed it within the popular imagination.
A War to End All Wars helps to remedy that.
This World War I documentary blends raw emotion, historical and contemporary on scene footage with sepia recreations to produce something quite different from the usual Sunday afternoon TV war program.
No doubt, this film breaks the mould. It doesn’t dish out apparently neutral information — arguably a modern myth — or come off like a standard evening news special.
Instead, broadcaster Robin Thompson passionately presents his take on inglorious Allied commanders and their bungling, irresponsible battle strategies.
British Field Marshal and Viscount Edmund Allenby takes most of the heat. But this movie isn’t just about portraying some of the Allied commanders as incompetent, uncaring snobs. It also humanizes enlisted soldiers fighting on both sides of the conflict.
Enter Corporal Robert Beveridge, the ordinary but exceptional Scottish soldier who met his untimely death before the war’s end. Beveridge’s heroic story illustrates the great cost of war while highlighting the importance of remembrance.
After all, the Allied soldiers fought for the rights and freedoms enjoyed and demanded by many today.
Only a cold robot could watch this film and not feel some emotion.
In addition to its call for respect and remembrance, A War to End All Wars displays a nascent spirituality.
To this effect, Thompson says everything looks “somehow familiar” while walking near the French fields where so many men were killed.
Thompson doesn’t elaborate, which is probably just as well. Viewers are left to fill in the blanks according to their spiritual beliefs.
A Hindu, for instance, might say Thompson reincarnated after being killed in the war. Whereas a Christian might argue that Thompson didn’t reincarnate but has a spiritual connection with the soldiers and their tumultuous era.
We can leave it to the pundits to decide because nobody really knows. The important thing is to remember. And that’s what this film does.