The Great War Goes to the Movies -- John Frey



Thursdays, August 4, 11, 18 & 25, 2022 1:00pm - 4:00pm Odd Fellows Hall, SLO

Click Here to Buy Your Ticket on Brown Paper Tickets


If you're on the right side of history, then you know that the best (if not all) World War I movies are anti-war movies. Considering The Great War took an estimated 40 million lives, most World War I films have sought to honor those forced into battle (as well as those who died after finding themselves in the middle of it).


Join John Frey as he presents four classic films about World War I shown over four sessions in August, 2022.

Each session will consist of a 30-minute commentary and discussion followed by a 2.5-hr video for each of the movies. You will receive a syllabus.


The true horrors of war can never be fully captured on camera, but the films in this series serve as a reminder of how troubling and horrifying war can be.


Week 1 -- They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old is a 2018 documentary film directed and produced by Peter Jackson. The film was created using original footage of the First World War from the Imperial War Museum's archives, most previously unseen, all over 100 years old by the time of release. Audio is from BBC and Imperial War Museum (IWM) interviews of British servicemen who fought in the conflict. Most of the footage has been colorised and transformed with modern production techniques, with the addition of sound effects and voice acting to be more evocative and feel closer to the soldiers' actual experiences.


Week 2 -- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 film)

All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic anti-war film based on the 1929 Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. Directed by Lewis Milestone, it opened to wide acclaim in the United States. Considered a realistic and harrowing account of warfare in World War I, the American Film Institute's ranked it the seventh-best American epic film. In 1990, the film was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film was the first to win the Academy Awards for both Outstanding Production and Best Director.


Week 3 -- La Grande Illusion (1937 film)

La Grande Illusion is a 1937 French war film directed by Jean Renoir. The story concerns class relationships among a small group of French officers who are prisoners of war during World War I and are plotting an escape. The title of the film comes from the 1909 book The Great Illusion by British journalist Norman Angell. The perspective of the film is generously humanistic to its characters of various nationalities. La Grande Illusion is regarded by critics and film historians as one of the masterpieces of French cinema and among the greatest films ever made.


Week 4 -- Paths of Glory (1957 film)

Paths of Glory is a 1957 American anti-war film co-written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack, after which Dax attempts to defend them against charges of cowardice in a court-martial. In 1992, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


John Frey is a retired Chemistry professor and a member of the Boards of LLCC,and of Opera SLO. He has performed in the chorus of Opera San Luis Obispo and the SLO Master Chorale. He has had a lifelong love and passion for opera, choral music and musical theater and has made numerous commentaries and video presentations for SLO’s Opera Lovers, OperaSLO and LLCC.


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