Archive for the ‘WW1’ Category

The devastating First World War. Four years of chaos and death in Flanders Fields. And at the end there was the Spanish flu.

It’s quite surreal to watch this Flemish series during corona times. But it’s being removed from Netflix by the end of the month and the idea was to finish it before the many professional trips to Ypres next month.

The show is well filmed and there is much eye to detail. The research was done well and the period setting is great. But the over-abundance of storylines is getting annoying halfway into the show. World War I is a fascinating period in history and there are so many facets of the war that were never addressed in major Hollywood movies. But to pack them all into a ten episode series is just not good.

Even though it’s an international production, it is still a Flemish series and the focus is on the story of a Flemish family. This may not appeal to international audiences as they will not understand the many references. We see the family Boesman from Ghent at the outbreak of the war. Doctor Boesman is a gynecologist who wants to become a professor at the university and assumes the war will soon be over. His wife, who is part of the catholic bourgeoisie, is at his side. Their oldest son is ready to go to battle. Their younger son is more opportunist and prefers to stay home and continue his work as as sales person. The daughter is too young to do anything, but she aspires to be a doctor one day, like her dad.

The characters are intriguing and good guides through the thick storybook of little tales about the war. But at one point it’s enough. Everything is mentioned. Briefly and superficially.  The Flemish social pillar system (socialist/catholic/liberal); the subordinate role of women, the Flemish collaboration and resistance, the pop-up brothels for the English officers, the gas attacks, the smuggling, the espionage, the food shortage, the Christmas truces, the war tactics, … and they still add romance to it all as well.

To give you a spoiler example focussing on the daughter. She wants to become a doctor but can’t as a woman, betrays her best friend whose father is German, tries to run errands for the resistance, is attracted to the young German officer who occupies her house, smuggles something across the border to her Grandmother, has an abortion, flees to England, becomes a nurse, meets her brothers in battle, etc… She clearly is the main character of the show, but actress Lize Feryn can’t carry the show. Luckily she is assisted by two actors playing her parents. Wim Opbrouck is great as the collaborating gynecologist and Barbara Sarafian is at her best trying to support her husband’s bad decisions.

Unfortunately it’s not a must-see and even a drag by the end.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2253780

1917 – ***

Posted: January 12, 2020 in 2019, UK, USA, War, WW1, XXX

The first hour of this Word War I epic is perfect cinema. Once the story reaches the town of Écoust-Saint-Mein however, it becomes a rather unrealistic survival adventure. It’s still good, but it kind of ruins the great storytelling of the first part. And the end.. well, it’s an end.

This movie gives the impression that it is made in a single shot. And it works. Amazingly. This means the storytelling is great ánd the direction was planned impeccably.

Two soldiers need to get a message across to stop a planned attack. That’s it. But what happens next is CINEMA at its best.

Just go see it. It deserves to win all the awards its nominated for.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8579674/

A guided tour of the Leopoldmuseum in Vienna by an art historian who raved about Egon Schiele. That’s all it takes to start watching the biopic that was made of the famous Austrian painter a few years ago.

It’s an interesting movie. It’s well acted, somehow historically correct and it shows the complexity of the artist without really judging him. That said, it’s also quite superficial. And romantic. Egon Schiele was not a handsome guy, yet he’s interpreted by Noah Saavedra – who apart from being an actor also works as a model. This feels wrong. Like having Brad Pitt or so play Van Gogh. However, the guy does an excellent job by keeping you intrigued for the entire length of the movie. Same for Valerie Pachner, who plays his muse and (eternal) lover Wally.

It’s a love story really, but a good one. Without a happy end of course. They all die. And that’s not a spoiler. The title is referring to one of his most famous paintings. A painting which is quite disturbing, something this movie (unfortunately) never does. So Egon Schiele himself would probably not like it at all. But oh well, he died 100 years ago…

www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

Sarajevo – **

Posted: July 28, 2019 in 2014, Austria, biopic, Germany, Terrorist, War, WW1, XX

This whodunnit … or rather who-ordered-it-to-have-it-done starts off really well. It focuses on one of the most important historical moments in recent history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The protagonist is Leo Pfeffer, the magistrate in charge of the investigation. The case is quite simple really. Gavrilo Princip shot him after an earlier attempt to kill the archduke by other Serbian terrorists failed. They even arrested the murderer and he confessed. So what’s there to investigate?

Well, according to this movie a lot. Like, who ordered this murder? In history class we learn that a group of Serbian anarchists did it. But did they get the order from the Serbian government? Or … did they get the order from German (business) leaders who just wanted to start a war ?

The movie is good. Well acted. Well directed. Well told. BUT it’s focussing too much on the latter assumption. It’s an interesting thought and it’s true that Europe was eager to go to war (at least the German leaders), but we get the point after a while. There’s also a love story, which most likely is pure fictional and was just added for the drama. It’s well thought of, but it does bother the storytelling a bit. The conversations between the characters also feel like these characters know what the future will look like. Which they didn’t.

Still. Worth the watch. And it’s on youtube

www.imdb.com/title/tt3691446

 

Now this is a fun and entertaining superhero movie! It’s not set in the future nor in an American metropolis for a change, which is great. This Gal Gadot is quite the performer. She looks good ánd she can kick ass. Not sure if there’s much acting, but hey, The action scenes are impressive. It’s directed really well… Bring on the sequel! Finally a box office hit that is worthy of being a box office hit.

The movie introduces Wonder Woman, a demi-goddess raised by the Amazones, who considers it her destiny to destroy Ares, the God of War. When she hears from an American pilot who entered their world (via a weird time warp wall) that The Great War is going on, she decides to leave her protected, women-only resort and face the real world of humans. As she’s never a) hung out with men before and b) has never visited the world where humans live, she’s in for a real treat! The humor is good. The set designs are great. And there are several surprises, one of which is Said Taghmaoui in a very small supporting role.

Another surprise is the Flemish dialogue from locals. The scene and soundbite do not make any sense, but it’s just fun to hear. It’s just bizarre. According to the plot, an evil German officer is stationed in Belgium and Wonder Woman needs to get to him. So, according to the script and the dialogue, they go to ‘Belgium’. But later in the movie, they talk about a village called ‘Veld’. They show an actual map where the village is mentioned on. However, it’s a map of Northern France. So NOT Belgium, but French-Flanders (the part from Flanders that Louis XIV claimed for France). I checked on google maps. There’s no ‘village’ called Veld (which means field) in between Hazebrouck, Moerbeke en Oud-Berkijn (as seen on the map in the movie). The only village there is De Walle. There is a village called Veld in Belgium, but it’s close to Torhout and Brugge. Anyways. Whatever. Then somehow the locals talk Flemish and French. The café where they dance advertises in Flemish (Bier & Tabak), but the photographer speaks with a French accent. The one scene where Wonder Woman kills a sniper by blowing up a church tower, is followed with locals saying What happened? Did you see what she did? in Flemish. BUT, it’s said with an Antwerp accent, and that’s a total different dialect. Regardless if it’s Hazebrouck or Brugge, the locals would speak West-Flemish. Anyways. It’s the linguistic nerd writing right now. How do these scenes come about at the production table? It’s all filmed in the UK anyways. Nothing is filmed in France or Belgium.

dav

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279

 

Au Revoir Là-Haut – **(*)

Posted: November 5, 2017 in 2017, Dramedy, France, WW1, XX1/2

Well directed, well filmed, well acted.

Yet somehow, the story isn’t quite as gripping as you want it to be.

An artist son of a rich businessman is sent to war and gets wounded days before the armistice. The lower part of his face is totally destroyed. He needs a daily dose of morphine, can’t speak and can’t eat properly. So far the sad part. He asks his soldier friend to fake his death and takes on the identity of another (dead) soldier. Life goes on, he becomes a great graphic illustrator wearing self-made masks and comes up with a fraudulent scheme to make a lot of money and leave France for good.

It’s quite an adventurous dramedy. It’s a multi layered story and the pace and action make it a fast ride. There’s a lot of drama, but the humor makes it light-hearted. In fact the humor makes the movie quite unique. It’s pretty dark (for a french movie). There are quite a lot of funny moments relating to dying and death and disrespect to the deceased. It’s not to everyone’s taste.

It’s visually spectacular. The historical setting is spot on. The war scenes in the beginning are Spielberg-esque. The masked moments are magical. It’s one to watch in the cinemas.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5258850