I spent the afternoon at the movies with some friends here in Seattle. I have been here for about a week. A combination of hanging out with friends, speaking at a conference and pitching companies on trying ActiveWords. Today I went to see a move called “A Very Long Engagement”. It is a French film, with sub-titles involving a romance and WWI. It is beautifully filmed, well acted and very interesting. The movie rotates around the idea that five French soldiers are accused of self-mutilization, in each case injuring their right hands so that they can no longer be in the French infantry at the front lines.
Suffice it to say if you want to see what happens in the movie, by all means go see it. What struck me in the film was my memories of reading about WWI, and the stunning losses suffered by all sides. Back in the 70’s when I was just out of law school, I rode a motorcycle around Europe for about 10 weeks. I put something like 2,600 miles on the bike, and saw a lot of France. I was in Verdun, toured the museum there, and saw the trenches. It like a memorable experience. I also found myself outside a small French town named Bar-Le-Duc. When I stopped the bike at an intersection I looked and saw trenches running into the forest. The mists were coming up that morning.
The idea that I would be in the trenches, hear an officer blow a whistle, yell something like “Por la France”, and then we would all climb over the top, and get cut down by machine gun bullets was a reality that I was grateful that I had missed.
The movie also did a magnificent job of showing the beauty of France away from the front lines. This odd comparison of the brutality of war and the charm of the French countryside.
One can only wonder what it was really like, as those who were there, have mostly passed on. Perhaps after you see a movie like, you can understand why the French have not been particularly interested in war at any later date. :// .imdb.com/title/tt0344510/