This month I have seen five different theatre productions set during the action of the war (four of which I have reviewed, one of which was a repeat visit):
- Regeneration (adapted for stage by Nicolas Wright, at the Wolverhampton Grand)
- Private Peaceful (National Youth Theatre)
- War Horse (National Theatre)
- A Farewell to Arms (adapted for stage by Imitate The Dog, at the Birmingham Rep)
- Not About Heroes (Trafalgar Studios)
I have also watched (or re-watched) many films and TV series set during WWI, my favourites being Passing Bells, Birdsong, War Horse, The Crimson Fields and My Boy Jack. Eventually I will get around to reviewing these as well.
Each of the plays or films tells a different story of the war, gives a different angle for thought, pushes different points to the fore but they have one overarching similarity. They have all derived from experiences on the Western Front. Whilst this is unsurprising in some ways (the Western Front is the sphere of the war I know best) it has also made me pause and realise just how one-sided the cultural representation of the war is in Britain.
When I rack my brains for WWI films or plays that are not set, or derived from, experiences in the trenches that crisscrossed Belgium and France I don’t come up with very many. In fact I only come up with one: Gallipoli. A quick google search doesn’t provide much assistance either, the most useful source (and I do use that word advised) being a Wikipedia list of twelve films relating to the Eastern Front, and even then the only one even remotely recognisable to me is Doctor Zhivago! I can find plenty of non-fiction accounts of the Eastern Front and the other theatres of WWI but there really does seem to be a derth of fictional material and I’m not sure if this huge disparity is simply that I’m in the wrong country to be finding these things or whether the gulf is real.
As such, I’m turning this post into a plea:
Can you recommend any films or dramatisations of WWI that are not set on the Western Front?
I’d be most grateful if you could.