WWI Festival Marks Centennial Through Films

Nov 1, 2018

The film All Quiet on the Western Front will open a festival featuring movies about WWI

Beginning Thursday Cache Valley's historic movie theater, the Utah Theatre, will be the location of a film series based on WWI.

The First World War Centennial Film Festival begins with the showing of All Quiet on the Western Front. This 1930 film is about a disillusioned soldier who faces the horrors of war.

All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the first talking movies, where you don’t have subtitles,” said Ross Peterson, a history professor at Utah State University. Peterson helped organize the film series to encourage his students to learn more about stories representative of some of the experiences of the war that ended 100 years ago.

“When WWI ended and it was Armistice Day that meant peace for many people around the world," he said. "They really thought when that war was over that this was going to be the end of wars."

The films Sergeant York, African Queen, and Paths of Glory will run during the festival. Prior to each showing a Utah State University professor will explain the historical, political and artistic aspects of the film and the war.

Wednesday, the 1981 film Gallipoli featuring Australian actor Mel Gibson, will be featured. The story is about two young sprinters sent to the front line where their speed makes them candidates for messengers in one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

“Pretty tough week of movies, because WWI was not a weekend picnic,” Peterson says. “It went for France, Great Britain, the Germans and Austrians for 51 months. Millions of people died, and at the end of the war you had the International influenza epidemic that killed millions.”

War Horse is scheduled to play Thursday, November 8. This 2011 film is about young Albert, who enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry.

“It is a phenomenal thing about animals and the way they have been used in war,” he adds. “In 1914-1915 you are still moving the ambulances, the cannons the same way you did in the Civil War. A horse is reliable, those vehicles were not. The thing that makes The War Horse so interesting is that the horse survives. And that makes it a good ending.”

The Utah Theatre WWI Centennial Film Festival in Logan is one of many WWI remembrance events happening throughout the month of November.