AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Death Parade
Release Date:   1934
Duration (in mins):  77
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Summary: Through the use of documentary footage taken by both sides, the history of World War I and its destruction of both man and machines are traced: The conflict begins on 20 July 1914 with a declaration of war by Serbia. Despite the prevailing political climate against war, the German military begins action six days later. Germany invades Belgium when the Belgian monarch, King Alfred, refuses Germany safe passage through his country to France, stating that Belgium is a nation, not a highway. The history of war in Europe is then traced back to the ninth century, beginning with religious wars between French and Arab nations, and continuing through the seventeenth century. The scene shifts back to World War I and the Eastern front, where the Russian army has amassed twelve million soldiers. Although it outnumbers the German forces, the Russian army is poorly equipped and trained, a deficiency that leads to great military losses. The workers revolt against the Czar and the Russian Revolution begins, causing the withdrawal of Russia from the European conflict. Twenty-one days after the Belgium invasion, France enters the war full force, fully aware of their defeat by Germany forty years earlier. At military hospitals, the term "basket-case" is coined to describe soldiers who have lost both arms and legs in battle. At the "Trench of Bayonets," a cave-in at the front lines kills hundreds of French soldiers, leaving only their bayonets above ground. The French army suffers greatly during the war, with 446,000 prisoners taken, one million soldiers killed and two-and-a-half million wounded. Like the French, the English military, which enters the war only twenty-four hours after the German invasion, suffers almost identical casualties, with 280,000 prisoners of war. The British navy plays a great role in the war, as it prevents a German blockade of England. In Egypt, camels are used in warfare because they are much cheaper than trucks and horses and can travel nine days without water. Italy enters the war and ends up being one of the deciding factors in its outcome. The Italian government, which is very anti-French, seeks to enter on the side of Germany, but the Italian people are anti-Austrian, so Italy is forced onto the French side. The Italians and Austrians fight in the snow, with the Italians successfully defending Venice. The film points out that it is more advantageous to wound a soldier than kill one, as it takes four people to care for one wounded soldier. The United States enters the war in 1917 after the Lusitania is sunk by the Germans, killing almost 1,200 people. The United States mobilizes over two million soldiers, which are transported by convoy across the Atlantic. The cost to the United States to fight the war is nearly twenty-two million, or $1,100 per American family. On 6 November 1917, the United States suffers its first military casualties of the war, with three soldiers killed in a trench raid. In July 1918, at the Battle of Château Thierry, the United States wins a major victory over the advancing German army, stopping them just outside of Paris. During the forty-seven day Battle of the Argonne Forest, the United States scores another major victory over the Germans, leading to the liberation of nearly 150 French towns. On 11 November 1918, the war finally ends with Germany's surrender. The Americans come home to grand victory parades, while France and Belgium attempt to reconstruct their decimated countries. At the signing of the armistice, it is declared that this European war, in which twenty-six million people lost their lives, is the war to end all wars. The film's narration states if that is true, then the war was worth the price. 

Distribution Company: State Rights
Production Company: A. L. Rule
Producer: Colonel Albert L. Rule (Prod)
Writer: Colonel Albert L. Rule (Explanatory dial)

Subject Major: Belgium. Army
  France. Army
  Germany. Army
  Italy. Army
  United States. Army
  World War I
Subject Minor: Airplanes
  Argonne, Battle of the, 1918
  Blimps, dirigibles and zeppelins
  Château-Thierry, Battle of, 1918
  Military camps
  Military invasion
  Officers (Military)
  Prisoners of war
  Saint-Mihiel, Battle of, 1918
  Somme, 2d Battle of the, 1918
  Verdun, Battle of, 1916
  War crimes
  War injuries
  War refugees
  War victims

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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