In the first third, Gance reprises his 1918 film of the same title, in the second third he carries the story forward, and the final third is something else again. Exploring the old Verdun battlefield in a thunderstorm, trench veteran Francen undergoes some unspecified transforming experience. Later, with world conflict about to break out again, he invokes the spirits of the war dead who, in an echo of the earlier picture, rise up and parade about reproachfully. A 'Universal Council' is convened, the war is called off, the dead return to their graves. Historically, these passages are an invaluable complement to Munich '38. As cinema, their unself-conscious absurdity and vulgarity (genuine disfigured veterans alongside extras in ghoul make-up) mark them as pure Gance.
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