battle of ypres

The box calls it The Battle of Ypres, but the film’s original title was just Ypres. It was made in 1925, a decade after most of the events that it shows. Directed by Walter Summers, it mixes wartime newsreel with re-enactments, and among its cast were several ex-soldiers who had been part of the fighting in the salient. The film gives a clear summary of the three battles of Ypres, and is at pains to show the courage and resilience of the troops involved.

Most of the film’s episodes centre on acts of extraordinary bravery, and subtitles often reveal that the men shown were awarded the Victoria Cross. The soldiers are shown positive and cheerful, and some episodes of broad comedy show them laughing in the face of adversity. This is an Army in which there were no cowards, no deserters, and no incompetent staff officers. If you want to know how the story of the Great War was told in the 1920s, this film gives a good idea.

I first saw it on the big screen at the Imperial War Museum some years ago. It is now available on DVD and well worth a look.

One Comment

  1. Jonathan Lighter
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    I haven’t seen “Ypres,” but it came out the same year as King Vidor’s Hollywood blockbuster “The Big Parade,” which, despite one or two absurd scenes, set a new standard for the (fictional) war movie.

    The scenario, by Marine Capt. Laurence Stallings, co-author of Broadway’s “What Price Glory?” depicts the Allies’ war as just but ultimately painful for all concerned.

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