An adaptation of Roland Dorgelès' celebrated (back then) WWI novel, this differs from its near contemporaries All Quiet and Westfront 1918 by having no explicit pacifist message. The intended audience were probably the veterans themselves, the movie being a necessarily circumspect but reasonably honest-seeming account of their collective experience. It's set throughout at the front, eschewing the customary 'home on leave' episode and concentrating remorselessly on the process of attrition, culminating in Blanchar's lonely calvary, as he slowly dies of a stomach wound in no man's land. The combat scenes, which go on and on, are filmed conventionally but sensibly with the camera, static or tracking, at ground level except when - unusually for the time - it seems to be hand-held. The sequence where the poilus listen nervously in their dugout to the sound of the Germans mining below them has the excitement of the newly feasible, characteristic of such early talkies.
Cast and crew
André Lang, Raymond Bernard