Watched Aug 12, 2012
Jeremy Heilman’s review:
Vidor's resolutely humanist war epic serves as a urtext for the entire genre to follow. A countless number of great films, from The Best Years of Our Lives to Full Metal Jacket to Saving Private Ryan, echo what has been set out here and an even greater number of inferior works recycle elements from here to lesser effect. It has total command of its scale, never letting spectacle, impressive as it might be, dwarf its focus on its lead characters. As such, many of the most affecting moments (e.g. a mother's embrace as her son returns home; a scene in which the men are caught showering by a French girl) are only tangentially related to the war. Sentimental, to be sure, but at the same time sober in its appraisal of national traumas. It's quite easy to understand why this was the most commercially successful of all silent films.