Forgotten Men: True Stories from the Brave Men That Fought in the Great War

Posted: June 20, 2014 in DVD, Films, World War I
Tags: , ,

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Studio Canal

Available Now – Amazon

Forgotten Men is a documentary about the First World War, with footage produced in 1934 (before the outbreak of the Second World War). Presented by historian Sir John Hammerton, this rare account of the horrors of the First World War combines original footage and pictures taken by official photographers between 1914-1918; intertwined with interviews from a number of ex-Servicemen who describe their own personal experiences whilst fighting on the western front – less than 20 years after WW1 ended.

A haunting account of the horrors of war, Forgotten Men is a document, reminding us in this centenary year, of the many brave men and women who risked their lives to fight for their country’s independence in one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

Forgotten Men is a wonderful documentary for many reasons. It’s filled with rare, interesting and depressingly brutal footage. There are entertaining and engaging face to face interviews with actual servicemen of the First World War. However, being originally produced and released way back in 1934, it’s interesting as historical account in its own right, too. The stoic Britishness of it all is sometimes laughable…and more often sobering. A telling moment comes when these men can’t bring themselves to say the word “urine”, but the narrator thinks nothing of mere seconds later dramatically declaring in voice over “Look at that body! It once had a head!”

This juxtaposition of cheery British celebration of victory is tempered by the cold detachment with which Hammerton rattles off the death statistics. Sometimes he seems a little too detached, but then we cut back to the “lecture room” with all the ex-servicemen, and he grows somehow warmer, underlining the difference between faceless statistics, and the REAL men who fought there.

Forgotten Men also provides excellent parts on both the aerial and naval fronts, with some very detailed sections on plane operations, and a decent sized part given over to the Battle of Jutland. Then, for the Treadheads like me, there’s some great footage of the Battle of Cambrai, and a decent sized talk about their involvement in the War.

The picture quality throughout is as good as it could be, although blips and scratches are to be expected – especially from one sequence where the camera filming it is visibly blown apart by incoming artillery! The sound is very good, some tape hiss, but again, nothing that can be improved upon.

The extras are minimal – an interview with historian Max Arthur – but it’s definitely worth a watch for the detail and background he provides.

Forgotten Men is a touching memorial to the many victims of the Great War, and features some amazing archive footage to boot!

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