World War I on Film

  • November 19, 2014 — November 22, 2014

2014 marks the centennial of the beginning of “the great war,” World War I. With events being held in memoriam worldwide, and with conflicts still raging whose histories connect to that epic clash, we look back—through four landmark films—at the wake of the 20th century’s first major cataclysm. Each of the films is a masterpiece in its own right, innovative and idiosyncratic in not only its aesthetic and narrative techniques, but also its views on the struggle between nations. From studio productions to independents, silent to sound, these four films are emblematic representations of not only the major shifts of the worldwide film industry over a 30-year period, but also of the ways in which filmmakers put the seemingly untranslatable experience of war in front of those who needed to see it most: the average citizens who comprised, or were related to, those who served.

Presented in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum’s exhibition This is War! Graphic Arts from the Great War, 1914-1918, running through December 14, 2014.


The Grand Illusion

Directed by Jean Renoir

A humanistic, sensitive masterpiece nearly unparalleled in cinema history, Renoir’s WWI drama concerns the trials and tribulations of a group

All Quiet on the Western Front 3

All Quiet on the Western Front

Directed by Lewis Milestone

Adapting Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel of the atrocities of war for Universal, Lewis Milestone produced one of the studio’s

The Big Parade 2

The Big Parade

Directed by King Vidor

MGM’s largest and most famous production at the time, and one of the highest grossing silent films, King Vidor’s epic


Paths of Glory

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick’s classic tale of corrupted leadership and the farce of legal proceedings during wartime (WWI) strikes resonance today through its