Films about the Age of First World War

This collection provides information on selected movies, TV productions and documentaries on the themes of gender, military and war in the period covered by the Oxford Handbook.

The most important wars for this period include:

  • First World War (1914–18)
  • Russian Civil War (1917–22)
  • Irish War of Independence and Civil War (1919–23)

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Director(s): Dovzhenko, Aleksandr
Year of Publication: 1930
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Widely regarded as a masterpiece of Soviet silent film and capping Alexander Dovzhenko's trilogy about the relationship between the Ukraine and the Soviet Union, Earth tackles the politics of collectivization and class in the Ukrainian...

Director(s): Wilcox, Herbert
Year of Publication: 1948
Abstract:

This film explores how women, women's roles, and ideas of femininity change through war. Spanning nearly 100 years across four wars (Crimean War, Boer War, World War I, and World War II), the women of Ladymead become more independent while their...

Director(s): Litvak, Anatole
Year of Publication: 1935
Abstract:

A French woman's affair leads to torn loyalties in this World War I drama. Hélène's lover is a friend of her husband, and both men are pilots for the French Air Force. 

Director(s): Ozon, François
Year of Publication: 2016
Abstract:

A meditation on the personal consequences of nationalism and war, a French veteran of World War I seeks forgiveness from a German family. Adrien visits Frantz's family and fiancée pretending to be an old friend from school. Anna discovers Adrien'...

Director(s): Yves Angelo
Year of Publication: 2005
Abstract:

In winter 1917 in France, the murder of a little girl, the young "Belle du Jour," overwhelms a peaceful village near the front of World War I. Around this crime, we see the interactions of Destinat, the mysterious prosecutor, the cynical judge...

Director(s): Desmond, John
Year of Publication: 1981
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An updated version of Frank O'Connor's short story about the Irish War for Independence, this film reveals the shared cultural dynamics of colonialism when Irish and British soldiers occupy close quarters during the Troubles. Two British soldiers...

Director(s): Thomas, Antony
Year of Publication: 1973
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Actor Kenneth Griffith provides a dramatic monologue of the life of Michael Collins, a prominent leader during the Irish War for Independence. Given its pro-Irish content in the midst of the Troubles, the Incorporated Television Company refused...

Director(s): Launder, Frank
Year of Publication: 1946
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A young Irish woman, frustrated by her attempts to join the Irish Republican Army, becomes a spy for the Germans during World War II. She discovers German plans for the D-Day invasion and tries to smuggle the information to the British. 

Director(s): Attenborough, Richard
Year of Publication: 1996
Abstract:

A lightly fictionalized portrayal of Ernest Hemingway's experiences as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, and the romance which inspired him to write his masterpiece A Farewell to Arms. A story of desperate love and...

Director(s): Magee, Colm
Year of Publication: 1998
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Drawing on archival evidence, photographs, and interviews, this documentary examines the Irish Civil War and its aftermath of relentless division and violence. Interviewees from both sides, some in their 90s, passionately defend their cause,...

Director(s): Dewhurst, George
Year of Publication: 1926
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An Irish Republican Army soldier on a mission is captured by the British during the Irish War of Independence. Filmed to celebrate Easter Rising, marking Irish resistance 10 years before, and banned in the UK, this silent film was thought long...

Director(s): Gance, Abel
Year of Publication: 1938
Abstract:

In this 1938 version of J'accuse, director Abel Gance's depiction of the Battle of Verdun and the sacrifices made for it served as a stern warning to his nation as World War II approached. Two romantic rivals put their differences aside...

Director(s): Dibb, Saul
Year of Publication: 2017
Abstract:

Set in a dugout in Aisne in 1918, it is the story of a group of British officers, led by the mentally disintegrating young officer Stanhope, as they await their fate. [IMBd]

Director(s): Dibb, Saul
Year of Publication: 2017
Abstract:

This latest version of the 1928 R. C. Sherriff play focuses on the men in the trenches during World War I. In 1918 in France, a group of war-weary British soldiers await a German attack. The officers and enlisted men try to maintain a semblance...

Director(s): Carion, Christian
Year of Publication: 2005
Abstract:

A fictionalized account of the Christmas truce on the Western Front in December 1914 during World War I, this Oscar-nominated film reveals the impact of war on rank-and-file soldiers in the Scottish, French, and German armies. Christmas carols...

Director(s): Hitchcock, Alfred
Year of Publication: 1929
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A tragicomic tale of the disintegration of one family during the Irish Civil War. Juno struggles to support her unemployed, drunk husband and her two teenage children. Both have involvement with the Irish Republican Army.

Director(s): Philippe de Broca
Year of Publication: 1966
Abstract:

A comedic fable about war, King of Hearts follows a Scottish assigned to disarm a German bomb in the French town of Marville at the end of World War I. The patients at the insane asylum have taken over the town when its resident fled....

Director(s): Rouffio, Jacques
Year of Publication: 1967
Abstract:

A young man and woman try to escape from the horrors of World War I. Antonin falls in love with Elisa, a young widow, after returning home from the front. He tries to injure himself to prevent returning to war, but he fails. Elisa travels to...

Director(s): Bozon, Serge
Year of Publication: 2007
Abstract:

A modern musical set during World War I, a newly wed French farm girl finds herself off to war. After receiving a disturbing letter from her husband, Camille disguises herself as a boy and joins troops on the Western Front. 

Director(s): Renoir, Jean
Year of Publication: 1937
Abstract:

Widely considered one of the best films of all time, director Jean Renoir's La Grade Illusion explores the common bonds of humanity among World War I officers to comment on the specter of war haunting 1930s Europe. The relationships...

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