Even if you have never heard of Verdun, visions d’histoire, chances are you have seen clips of it. The epic French retelling of the Battle of Verdun was so accurate and so dramatically filmed that footage has been used repeatedly in documentaries of the First World War– sometimes even being presented as actual war footage!
It’s not surprising, really. Verdun was designed to recreate history using the very latest motion picture technique and technology. Accuracy was paramount. Real locations were used. Real soldiers were used as extras. Military commanders reprised their roles of a decade before. Though militarily accurate, the film is not jingoistic. It has a pacifist message: the Germans were human too.
Like so many other silent films, only a truncated version survived. The recovery of the complete print of Verdun is a fascinating tale in itself. The film had been seized by the Germans during the Second World War but was then captured by the Russians when they entered Berlin. It was taken back to Moscow where it waited in a vault before a copy was obtained by the modern French rights holder.
Restored in 2006, the film has finally been released on home media in time for the centennial year of the start of WWI.
(Please note that I am just reviewing the DVD release of the film, I will be reviewing the actual film in detail later.)
The disc includes the restored print of the 1928 film Verdun, visions d’histoire. In addition, there is a….