WWI films in Friday Night Flicks

Jul 26, 2014
Audrey Tautou stars in “A Very Long Engagement,” a romantic drama set against the backdrop of World War I.

Belfast — The summer of 2014 marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War. Over the century, many great films have been made set during the war and reflecting on the issues raised by one of history’s greatest cataclysms.

In commemoration, Belfast Free Library’s free Friday Night Flicks film series is presenting eight cinematic representations of the war this summer. All films are shown at 7 p.m. in the library’s Abbott Room and are presented free of charge. The library is downtown, at 106 High St.

The film for Aug. 1 is “A Very Long Engagement” (2004, France/USA), which runs 133 minutes. When a young French woman, played by Audrey Tautou, is informed that her fiancé is missing in action in No Man’s Land, she refuses to believe the official story and begins an attempt to find out what really happened to him and to his comrades.

“The African Queen” (1951, USA), screened on Aug. 8, is true Hollywood classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn as a mismatched couple who set off on a preposterous mission to sink a German gunboat in the wilds of East Africa. Bogart won the Academy Award for his performance; the film runs 105 minutes.

Many critics have placed Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” (1937, France) on their all-time greatest films lists. The film, which runs 114 minutes, will be presented on Aug. 15. Erich Von Stroheim and Jean Gabin, often called France’s greatest movie star, lead the cast in this tale of French officers held prisoners in a German castle.

The battle of Gallipoli, in which Australian troops fought a brutal campaign against the Turks, is considered one of the defining moments in the creation of Australia’s national identity. Similarly, Peter Weir’s epic film about the battle was one the most important steps in the development of the nation’s film industry. “Gallipoli” (1981, Australia) will be shown on Aug. 22 and runs 110 minutes.

The final presentation in the series will be on Aug. 29. When we think about war, we focus naturally on the human suffering, but historians estimate that more than 10 million horses were killed in the First World War. Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” (2011, USA), based on an acclaimed children’s novel, tells the story of one horse and his struggles to survive the horrors of a war he could not understand. The film runs 146 minutes.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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