Friday, May 23, 2008

All the King's Men

If there is a movie about World War I that isn't completely depressing, I haven't seen it. (I don't count Blackadder Goes Forth - that wasn't really about WWI). And of all the depressing events of WWI, the Gallipoli campaign has to be the most wrenching. Masterpiece Theater produced a 2-hour program that examined the fate of one British company sent to Gallipoli. What makes All the King's Men so interesting is that the company was made up entirely of servants from the Norfolk estate of King George V and the entire group vanished on the battlefield, never to be heard from again. The viewer gets to see the men of this ill-fated company, led by the King's steward (Sir David Jason) at home before their deployment. By focusing in on a few characters (including a sweet love story), the film draws the viewer into their fate. Dame Maggie Smith is wonderful as always, portraying Queen Alexandra (who instigates an investigation into the fate of her servants), and all the supporting actors and actresses are good also. You can't help feeling a little frustrated at the naiveité of everyone involved and their unrealistic expectations of what happens on a battlefield, but then they didn't have imbedded reporters piping back graphic accounts into their living rooms every night. It might not have been a gentler time, but it was certainly a simpler one.

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