I’ve long thought that if you want to see through the deceptive camouflage to the truest essence of the state, you need to study the Great War, renamed World War I after the 20-year intermission between it and World War War II. As you study the prelude to the war that began in August 1914, you grasp how the rulers of each of the great European powers — Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia — shared responsibility, though not in equal measure, for the insanity that was to follow, an insanity that annihilated the flower of a generation and inflicted mind-numbing devastation throughout Europe and beyond.
Lately, I have been watching whatever documentaries and movies about the war I can find, so the appearance of a new movie, 1917, is perfect for me. This is not a movie about how or why the war that had 40 million total casualties happened. Rather, it focuses narrowly on two British privates on a mission that takes them out of the putrid trenches, across terrifying no-man’s land, and through possibly former German-held territory in France. And we accompany them throughout their ordeal; there are no cuts to other locations. I was on edge for nearly two hours. The movie’s remarkable cinematography conveys what that killing field must have looked and felt like to the poor souls thrust into it.
I enthusiastically recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see the misery that states are capable of inflicting on innocent people.