The Battle of Verdun is one of the costliest battles in history. It exemplified the policy of a ‘war of attrition’ pursued by both sides, which led to an enormous loss of life. The battle lasted from February 21st 1916 to December 16th in 1916. This was the longest single battle of World War One. The casualties from Verdun and the impact the battle had on the French Army was a primary reason for the British starting the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 in an effort to take German pressure off of the French at Verdun.
The attack on Verdun came about due to the plan of the German Chief of General Staff, von Falkenhayn. He wanted to ‘bleed France white’ by launching a massive German attack on the narrow stretch of land surrounding Verdun that had historical sentiment for the French. This area around Verdun contained twenty major forts and forty smaller ones that had protected the eastern border of France in the past and had been modernised in the early years of the Twentieth Century. Falkenhayn believed that the French simply could not allow…
Source: The Battle of Verdun 1916 | W.U Hstry
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….
via Unboxing the Silents: Verdun, Looking at History | Movies Silently