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The First World WarLiterature, Culture, Modernity$
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Santanu Das and Kate McLoughlin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266267

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266267.001.0001

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First World War Film and the Face of Death

First World War Film and the Face of Death

Chapter:
(p.114) 6 First World War Film and the Face of Death
Source:
The First World War
Author(s):

Laura Marcus

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266267.003.0006

Central to a number of films made during or about the First World War is a thinned relationship between the living and the dead. The Battle of the Somme (1916) depicts a moment in which, from a row of soldiers going over the top, two slip back, shot. Their dying, or death, occurs between frames, an aperture through which the viewer may glimpse another dimension. J’Accuse (1919, 1938) employs soon-to-die soldiers as extras in a sequence in which the dead return. The result is a fantastical crossing between living and dead. In Pour la Paix du Monde (1926), soldiers whose faces have been maimed by war injuries are seen first in close-up, their mutilations covered by silken masks. Then they tear the masks off, allowing the viewer to see the war in its ‘true colours’. Affording the viewer these glimpses of the after-life, all three films create imaginative warps in space-time.

Keywords:   First World War, film, death, Battle of the Somme, J'Accuse

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