While war films date to the beginnings of cinema and the Spanish-American War, World War I’s magnification of the mutual impact of war and cinema on each other brought the relationship to an entirely new level. As the war that introduced modern technology into combat, World War I saw film and the moving image enlisted as instruments of surveillance and documentation. Away from the battlefront, propaganda films and newsreels worked to keep the civilian population informed and to incite them to join the fight.
The Harvard Film Archive is proud to present a survey of films about World War I, which span several countries, decades and contexts, illustrating that the trauma of the war meant that as often as not, war films became anti-war films. If the conflict was not “the war to end all wars,” it nevertheless represented the end of the early modern age and the coming of an entirely new world, one in which cinema would have a central place.
This program is presented in conjunction with a two-day conference at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard, “In Our Time: The Great War at 100,” on February 12 and 13. For more information, visit their website.
The series runs from Feb. 13 – March 2. Join the conversation with #GreatWarAt100