July 21, 2012 |
Along with millions of idealistic young men who were cut to pieces by machine guns and obliterated by artillery shells, there was another major casualty of World War I: traditional ideas about Western art. The Great War of 1914-18 tilted culture on its axis, particularly in Europe and the United States. Nearly 100 years later, that legacy is being wrestled with in film, visual art, music, television shows like the gauzily nostalgic PBS soaper "Downton Abbey" and plays including the Tony Award-winning"War Horse," concluding its run at the Ahmanson Theatre.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 27, 2012 |
For social historian and critic Paul Fussell, the most enduring moments of truth came as a 20-year-old platoon leader in France during World War II. German shrapnel tore up his back and thigh. The blood and guts of fellow soldiers were spewed on him. His staff sergeant died in his arms. He realized there was nothing romantic about war, only mud, cold, death, outrage and fear. "The war," Fussell told the Washington Post decades later, "is behind everything I do," beginning with his book "The Great War and Modern Memory," a classic 1975 critique of art and literature after World War I that showed how that conflict forever changed Western society and culture.
January 3, 2012 |
World War II has inspired far more movies than any other war, which is understandable, given the sharp demarcation between good and evil that characterized the battle against Hitler and his allies. By contrast, World War I is rarely depicted on the screen. It doesn't offer the same moral clarity as the fight against fascist tyranny. In one of the best World War I movies, Peter Weir's "Gallipoli," a hermit living in the Australian outback asks the young hero how the war started. "I don't know exactly," the eager recruit replies, "but it was the Germans' fault.
December 18, 2011 |
On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp set at 23,000 feet on Mt. Everest. They were George Mallory, who, at 37, was already one of the world's most accomplished climbers, and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, a 22-year-old Oxford graduate with little climbing experience. They walked out of the camp, vanished into the mists that surrounded the peak, and were never seen again until Mallory's frozen body was found in 1999. In his magnificent, if perhaps overlong, new book, "Into the Silence," Wade Davis tells the full story behind this almost mythic story, imbuing it with historic scope and epic sweep, perceiving the quest to conquer Everest as an emblem of Britain's damaged nobility and infatuation with heroic failure.
November 7, 2011
"Grand Illusion" Jean Renoir's 1937 antiwar film set in a World War I POW camp was the first foreign production to earn a best film Oscar nomination. "Il Generale della Rovere" Roberto Rossellini directed this award-winning 1959 World War II drama starring famed Italian director Vittorio De Sica as a con man arrested by the Gestapo. "War and Peace" Sergei Bondarchuk's epic adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel won the 1968 best foreign film Oscar.
July 3, 2011 |
To End All Wars A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 Adam Hochschild Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 450 pp., $28 We think of Europe in 1914 as a continent all too eager for war — volunteers jamming recruiting offices, festooned soldiers joyfully marching to battle and delirious crowds waving them off. To a significant extent, that vision is true, and for a time the Great War brought domestic unity and shared purpose to...