How should we remember the First World War? Was it a just war against the militarism of Germany and its allies? A war between imperial powers fighting to extend their economic reach?
An accident from which no combatant country was able to extricate itself?
These are some of the questions asked by the York Alternative History Group with a series of films offering critical perspectives on World War One.
The programme reflects on the terrible outcomes of the conflict. Millions were killed and economies and nation states were destroyed.
The rewriting of the map of Central and Eastern Europe led to the rise of fascism in German and Italy. Changes wrought on the Middle East are still resonating today in Iraq, Syria and Palestine.
Another question the group want to explore is how we remember the courage of those many who refused to participate.
At most of the films, there will be a display of material including maps and photographs illustrating the impact that the war had on the residents of York, plus a brief talk to introduce the film and our wider programme of work.
The group hopes to show films in future providing perspectives from some of the other major combatants (Germany, Turkey, Russia, USA), perhaps linked to key events such as Gallipoli.
All the films are shown at City Screen in York.
Monday, August 4, 6.15pm A Night At The Cinema 1914
A compilation of short films, illustrating the context of the time: what 1914 felt like in the UK
Sunday, September 7, 5pm Paths Of Glory
Kubrick’s anti-war statement in which a group of French soldiers revolt against a suicidal mission and are pursued by their corrupt superiors who demand their punishment
Sunday, October 5, 1pm WINGS
An action film about early aviators: a humanist exploration of the devastating results of war. Winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture
Sunday, October 19, 5pm Le Grande Illusion
Jean Renoir’s first masterpiece is one of the greatest anti-war statements in cinema, a portrait of prisoners of war attempting to escape
Tuesday, November 11 (Armistice Day)
A special related film screening, further details to be announced shortly
Sunday, November 23, 4.30pm Oh! What A Lovely War
This famous anti-war satire thinly veils the horror of the war in song and dance routines performed by pierrots who regularly tot up the dead on a scoreboard