Today, April 14th 1912, 110 years ago, the most famous ship in the world, the R.M.S Titanic struck an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sank on April 15th in about two hours. The resulting disaster cost 1,504 people their lives. I wanted to share this because Titanic had two sister ships, the R.M.S Olympic and the R.M.S Britannic, and both ships were used during World War I. The Olympic was the ”older sister” of Titanic, the first edition of the White Star Line Olympic class steamships. The Olympic was originally used as a commercial service ship up until the beginning of the war. So she was used to carry troops across Europe during the war and even performed a few war acts. The Britannic was the third edition of White Star Line’s ships and the ”youngest sister” of the Olympic and the Titanic. Since the Britannic wouldn’t finish construction until 1915, the Britannic was immediately commissioned to be used as a hospital ship to carry injured troops.
Yes, all three ships look very similar, but each ship had uniquely different traits. The Olympic survived the war, even earning the the nickname ”old reliable.” However, the Britannic followed the same fate as the Titanic and sank after only a year of service. Thankfully, the Britannic sank in warmer water and closer to the shore, resulting in almost everyone surviving the sinking. A handful of passengers died due to their lifeboat being to close to the ships exposed propellers. However, an even more interesting fact is that after the Titanic disaster, The White Star Line made major safety changes to their ships to present another disaster. Even with all the safety changes, the Britannic sank in about one hour, the Titanic without these safety changes, sank in about two hours.
Anyway, I just thought this would be a fun thing to share as April 15th is the anniversary of the Titanic disaster and because Titanic’s sister ships where part of the war. I am a Titanic history nut so I wanted to share some of my knowledge.
As briefly mentioned in class today, there were many different types of animals that served in World War I and World War II. Animals such as horses, pigeons, dogs, and cats. Stubby was an infamous dog that served in World War I. He did many brave acts while at the front, from warning the soldiers about a gas attack, to finding a German spy while investigating American troops. But most importantly, he provided moral support for the American troops in the war.
I will add a link to a website that talks more about Stubby. His story really is amazing. What he did during and even after the war was absolutely inspiring and even hilarious.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a movie based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The novel has been reviewed to be the greatest war novel of all time. So, this movie had high expectations. This review will be on the original 1930 movie adaptation of the novel. My overall review of the film was that it was solid adaptation of the novel. I value a movie that is based off of a novel, to stay true to the original story. This film does just that. Some events take place differently than they do in the novel, but it doesn’t change the overall narrative of the story. Even as a movie by itself, I still believe that it is a great film with great characters and even fantastic film making.
Just like in the novel, the movie follows a group of young men who enlist in the German Army during World War I. The protagonist is Paul, who is played by Lew Ayres. Ayres did a fairly good job playing Paul. There were some scenes that Ayres did very well at, while others could have been better. Lew Ayres did have a difficult task acting Paul’s character. In the novel, we only read the story from Paul’s point of view. So it’s easy to read how Paul is feeling and thinking throughout the novel. But in a movie Ayres needed to portray these emotions. The scene that Lew Ayres acted very well was the scene when Paul is in the hospital with his dying friend Kemmerich, played by Ben Alexander. This is a short but powerful scene in the film. Ayres did a great job when portraying Paul’s emotions throughout this scene. However, a different scene that Ayres could have done better was the scene where Paul is stuck in a fox hole with another Italian solider that he just killed. This is an infamous moment in the novel. As the reader you really get into the mind of Paul and comprehend the war and his emotions around him. Lew Ayres did a good job, it was just missing something for me while watching it. I feel like if you haven’t read the novel, this scene would come off as a little confusing. I think if Lew Ayres were able to express a little more emotion of what happens in the scene it could have been better.
One thing that has to be acknowledged with this film was the scenes of the war. Today, this movies practical effects would be extremely subpar. But this film was made in the 1930s, cinema was just starting off and films were relatively good natured and didn’t show explicit scenes. This film was actually banned in many countries at the time for how graphic the movie was. When we think of war movies today, we tend to think of very graphic and bloody scenes like the beginning of the film Saving Private Ryan. This film managed to show the terror of war without almost any blood on screen. That is amazing and goes to show that this film stands out among other war films.
Overall, this film was accurate adaptation of the original novel and even of World War I. Even though the film cut out a few parts from the novel, it stayed true to the original story. I truly believe that this film helped portray and even help those who have served in wars and will be a staple of World War I cinema. There is one scene where Paul is fighting at the front for the first time and he witnesses an Italian solider grab a part of the barbed wire fence, and a bomb hits him. All that is left of the Italian solider are his hands still holding on to the fence. That is an image that I, like Paul, will remember for the rest of my life.
In the first few chapters of the novel, Himmelstoss is a terrible leader to Paul and his remaining soldiers. However, after experiencing the horrors that he witnessed during chapter 6 and also being a coward during the fighting, Himmelstoss tries to regain the trust of his fellow soldiers. Paul and his friends more or less forgive him. However, if Himmelstoss knew that Paul and his friends were the ones that beat him up previously, do you think he would be so desperate to earn back their trust? Why or why not?
In chapter 7, Paul is given leave and goes back to his hometown. In the novel, Paul describes himself being a “stranger” in his own home. While he is happy to see his parents, at the end of the chapter he wishes that he didn’t come back home. As it will be even harder to say goodbye and to go back to the front lines. If you were Paul, would you go home and see your family, maybe even for the last time, or would you go somewhere else on your seventeen days of leave?
In the beginning of chapter 8, Paul returns to the front lines only to see captured Russian soldiers looking through garbage for food. Paul remarks that these men he was looking at were the enemy. These men with “honest peasant faces” as Paul says. He sees no difference between them or himself. Even after all Paul has been through and has seen these men, do you think he believes in the war anymore? Do you think he’s still has the “spirit” to continue fighting for his country?