Archives for posts with tag: World War I

Anything about World War I catches my eye. My long time interest in The Great War began with the movie In Love and War, starting Chris O’Donnell and Sandra Bullock. It was about Ernest Hemmingway’s experiences during the war and showcased the era in a captivating way.

When I followed the link to this article on Twitter, it lead to amazing colorized photographs of scenes of wartime Europe. Since it occurred at a time when photography was still finding its feet, the war had been displayed for us historically in black and white. It’s how we’ve been used to seeing it, which is why the colorized images are so startling now.   

In the grand scheme of this bigger-than-life collective life, the World War I era was not really a great long time ago. Its importance as the first mechanized war, with tank warfare and aerial dogfights marked a new chapter in several areas…warfare, technology, man on man inflicted suffering, yet it seems anything but modern, when viewed exclusively in black and white or sepia tones. Our 21st century gaze peruses the colorized versions with a more visceral reaction that helps merge the time not far from the turn of the 20th century with our current age of technological awe.

Of course the fact that images are in color neither lessens or makes more important the content. It does draw our attention in a new way, allowing us to see history with fresh eyes and perception. It makes it more real somehow, more our war, as well as the long, hard endured experience of generations lost.
In Love and War Trailer

These “new” images, from glass plates of World War I scenes, are both fascinating and appalling. That such horrors took place at all is devastating all over again each time pictures emerge old and new. Yet, being able to see images of The Great War with such depth and clarity is actually a privilege. It’s still close enough to Memorial Day to make viewing these pictures even more poignant.

Unseen photos from World War I

Some time ago I came across the 2006 movie Flyboys in a bargain bin. When I was looking for something to watch tonight, it seemed like a great choice since it’s Memorial Day weekend.

I’ve always been interested in World War I, from Doughboys on the ground in the trenches to fragile early airplanes swooping and soaring through foreign skies. Flying aces, battling the enemy close enough to stare at him eye to eye, are such a part of world history that we can think we know about them without really knowing much at all. Historical names like Richthofen and Rickenbacker, Snoopy “flying” his doghouse, goggles firmly in place and scarf waving, even Red Baron Pizza…that era has become a solid part of pop culture. A movie like Flyboys brings a startling jolt of reality to even the most casual observer.

Based on the true story of the Lafayette Escadrille, Flyboys taught me details of the lives of those pilots that had never occurred to me. The flowing white scarves that give such dashing glamour to the already attractive leather jackets? Turns out they were an inadvertent fashion statement. Their practical purpose was to ease chafing of the neck caused by constant head turning to spot the enemy in the air. The goggles that provided necessary protection for the pilots’ eyes in flight were a danger when a crash was unavoidable, as the glass could shatter and become a hazard. So they were trained to take them off when they knew they were going down. The most simple details revealed themselves to be more vital than one would think.

The cast, direction, cinematography, score…everything about this movie was top notch. It brought the past to life in a vivid, thrilling way, yet I never lost the knowledge in the back of my mind that it was not only a historical story, but also real on a more intimate scale. History, humanity, and deeply personal stories woven together in a movie that reminded me at a time when we remember those we’ve lost, from heroes on a magnificent scale to personal loss born of love and familiarity, that some people have unnatural levels of courage. Whether unknown and unnoticed everymen or valiant flyboys with unrelenting drive and heroism, the world is richer and safer to have had them pass through their own lifetimes…and ours in memory.

Flyboys Official Trailer