On July 28, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The so-called War to End All Wars had begun. In commemoration of this anniversary, we have selected a series of memorable international features that artfully depict this gruesome conflict in styles ranging from the absurdly comic (a program of How I Won the War and Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms) to the stirringly epic (Gance’s J’Accuse and King Vidor’s The Big Parade).

  • Sat., Nov. 1 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In a rare dramatic role, Lennon plays a Cockney soldier in Lester’s surreal and satirical attack on the lunacy of war. The loose and episodic story mainly serves to contrast the self-serving reminiscences of a conceited war veteran (Lester regular Crawford) with his actual, bumbling experiences. Preceded by Charles Chaplin in SHOULDER ARMS (USA, 1918, 35mm, 45 min.).

  • Sat., Nov. 8 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Gassman and Sordi, two of Italian cinema’s greatest leading men, play a pair of reluctant draftees during WWI who do everything they can to avoid action on the front lines. Director Monicelli (The Organizer) delivers another of his beautifully performed serio-comedies, a decidedly unpatriotic look at Italian military heroism.

  • Sat., Nov. 15 | 2:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Before he made Napoleon, Gance gave the world this profoundly moving and audacious anti-war film, which was already in production while the First World War continued to devour soldiers. The uncut, original release version will be presented here in a restoration featuring a synchronized score by the Robert Israel Orchestra. Supported by the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France, the Institut français and Mission Centenaire 14-18.



  • Sat., Nov. 15 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Silent era heartthrob Gilbert plays a man of privilege whose youthful enthusiasm for war is slowly eroded when he and his buddies reach the front lines in France. Innovatively filmed by master director Vidor and cinematographer John Arnold, The Big Parade has retained its capacity to move an audience, almost 90 years after its initial release. 35mm print courtesy of George Eastman House. Live piano by David Drazin.

  • Sat., Nov. 22 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Powell and Pressburger’s supreme achievement covers forty years of the blustery general’s tumultuous military career.  Shot during the Blitz yet still suffused with the Archers’ customarily brilliant Technicolor photography, brisk pacing, and rich sense of humor, Colonel Blimp remains an incomparably moving ode to humanity itself. “Very possibly the finest film ever made in Britain” (Dave Kehr). (MK)