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Subject: Why Do So Few Hollywood Movies Take Place During World War I? rss

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Russ Williams
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https://psmag.com/social-justice/lets-have-more-movies-like-...

FWIW I found it an interesting overview/history of WW1 in film, and why Hollywood likes WW2 so much more.


(And I was happy to see WW1 in Wonder Woman.)

===

It occurs to me that besides other factors (e.g. that USA played a larger role in WW2; that WW1 was longer ago and no longer in living memory; etc), there is a self-perpetuating factor: more stuff (films, games, TV, books, etc) getting made about WW2 then naturally raises WW2 in people's consciousness, and thus raises interest and demand for more WW2 stuff.
 
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Robert Stuart
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Let's face it: World War I was boring!

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Peter Lloyd
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More correctly, perceived as boring. Also the big patriotic spirit and national commitment don't come until Pearl Harbor and WW2. After all, how many movies are made about the Blitzkrieg years?
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brant G
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(caveat - I haven't read the article yet)



we had this discussion a few years ago over some drinks, and came to the conclusion that the general movie-going public is too dumb to tell the difference, so why not go for the 'bigger' war with more recognizable tanks, planes, etc, and (at the time) still-living grandparents that fought in it
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Brent Pollock
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This misses the more important question: why has there not been a Blackadder set in WW II?
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russ wrote:


(And I was happy to see WW1 in Wonder Woman.)



    . . . though the town battle shown looked very WW2ish. Am I the only one that noticed that?

             S.

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WBRP wrote:
This misses the more important question: why has there not been a Blackadder set in WW II?


Because *spoiler alert* he dies during WWI. No incarnation of Black Adder dies during the other seasons, so they obviously get to procreate sometime after the last episode. So unless gallivanting with Bob led to an actual baby somewhere, there simply aren't any Black Adders after WWI and all the one-shots set in later eras are simply apocryphal nonsense.

Unless you're one of those people who believes the various Black Adders are not direct descendants of a single line, but just vaguely related, or even not related at all, in which case I have nothing more to say to you, you heretic.
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Rex Stites
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WWII is an easy "good v. evil" sell. The Nazis were bad, bad people and everyone knows this. Moreover, even independent of atrocities they committed independently, everyone automatically considers those allied to the Nazis to be evil as well.

WWI, on the other hand, doesn't have that clearly "good v. evil" stereotype to play into.
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I think this could quickly turn into a political discussion if left to its devices. So instead I will recommend a Hollywood WW1 production that many may not realize, and it is not bad at all:

The Young Indianna Jones Chronicles

Movies 8-17 take place in and during WW1.
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Tony Holt
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I actually think there is a large number of WW I movies. Not nearly the number of WW II, to be sure, but still quite a few. problem is they are, for the most part, older:

Here are the ones that I've actually seen/remember

Wings (1927): Won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930): Also won Best Picture Award
A Farewell to Arms (1936): Another Oscar Winner
Sergeant York (1941)
The African Queen (1951)
What Price Glory (1952)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962): 7 Oscars
The Blue Max (1966)
Gallipoli (1981)
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Flyboys (2006)
War Horse (2011)
The Aforementioned Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-1996)
The Lost Battalion (2001)
William Kelly's War (2014)

Those are just the ones I know I've seen and remember. Some are better than others, some were....well...they were made.

Tony
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Like Tony said, there are plenty to choose from, but the topic doesn't get near the attention as WW2. Some others:

Hell's Angels - 1930
Dawn Patrol - 1938
The Fighting 69th - 1940
Paths of Glory - 1957
The Red Baron - 2008
Passchendaele - 2008

Again, some great, some good, some awful. Just like the WW2.
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Russ Williams
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tpholt wrote:
Wings (1927): Won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture

I got to see this with a live orchestra about 20 years ago in Austin (where silent films with live music were a thing for a while, which was pretty cool).

Quote:
Gallipoli (1981)

A good one indeed - I would like to see it again - but Australian, not Hollywood. (The article does mention "WWI's share of acclaimed films most often come from outside the U.S.")
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Tony Holt
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russ wrote:

Quote:
Gallipoli (1981)

A good one indeed - I would like to see it again - but Australian, not Hollywood. (The article does mention "WWI's share of acclaimed films most often come from outside the U.S.")


I assume you're referring to the Mel Gibson one? That's the one I've seen and remember. in fact I think I have it at home somewhere...

Tony
 
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Russ Williams
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tpholt wrote:
russ wrote:

Quote:
Gallipoli (1981)

A good one indeed - I would like to see it again - but Australian, not Hollywood. (The article does mention "WWI's share of acclaimed films most often come from outside the U.S.")


I assume you're referring to the Mel Gibson one? That's the one I've seen and remember. in fact I think I have it at home somewhere...

Yep! Directed by Peter Weir.
 
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Two possible reasons:

1 - WW1 ended with an armistice rather than outright defeat, although it was greatly in favour of the Entente powers

2 (and probably more likely) - because American involvement was limited to the last year of the war, Hollywood may find it difficult to fund a war film based on any actions fought during WW1 unless it involved American forces. Since they are probably looking at Box Office sales in America to make a film profitable, they may think there is limited interest in America in WW1 because American involvement only took place in the last year.

It's all about $$$$$$
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Because perceptions continue that the war was static, trench warfare exclusively.

The neat toys of WWII--carriers, bombers, tanks--simply weren't around in sufficient numbers during WWI.

The Kaiser also is not as historically-reviled an individual as Hitler, so there is less of a "moral imperative" element than there is in WWII.
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Jon M
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Anyone ever seen the movie pitches from Horrible Histories? I imagine the answer would be something along those lines.
 
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Cris Whetstone
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J.L.Robert wrote:
Because perceptions continue that the war was static, trench warfare exclusively.

The neat toys of WWII--carriers, bombers, tanks--simply weren't around in sufficient numbers during WWI.

The Kaiser also is not as historically-reviled an individual as Hitler, so there is less of a "moral imperative" element than there is in WWII.


I was going to add a list but JL summarizes three big reasons right here.

I would add that in this country(USA) there is has been a general view of our involvement in WW2 as being heroic and we call that generation "The Greatest Generation", etc.

There are many reasons for this but that perception of fighting evil is huge. As is the view that America helped saved the world in WW2. WWI is seen as more about the politics of Europe.

Also, unlike WWI, we were attacked so the view of our involvement is much more positive. We had to defend ourselves whereas in WWI we signed up to keep France from being rolled.

WW2 also saw our industrial might and technology grow by leaps and bounds. This gave people a general view of the nation's world preeminence and making a great future for everyone.


There is some cultural inflections I've left out of this that are controversial.

I also am not necessarily advocating much of the above but it is as I see it from being a native.
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Russell Evans
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Because the Hollywood film industry first started getting big during 1940's when the war was taking place, and because WWII movies did so well they decided not to fix what wasn't broken and continued making WWII movies.
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