Movie Essay: World War I: An American Legacy

World War I was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the mankind and such films as “World War I: An American Legacy” remind people of the impact of this tragedy on the USA as well as on the life of individuals, who took part in the military actions during the wartime.

Obviously, the major goal of the documentary is to remind Americans about the tragic events of World War I and the contribution of ordinary Americans in the victory of the US and its allies in the war. In such a way, the film presents the audience a lesson Americans should remember because this film and events it describes tell the audience a story of heroism of American people and their devotedness to ideals of democracy and humanism, for the sake of which Americans were ready to sacrifice their own lives.

In fact, the documentary “World War I: An American Legacy” reminds the audience numerous cases of heroism of Americans during World War I. At the same time, the film shows challenges Americans had faced during the war and hardships they had passed through simply to survive in the massacre called World War I.  In this respect, it is possible to refer to the story of Charles Wittlesey of the Lost Battalion. The film depicts in details his story of the almost miraculous survival, when he had to fight against impossible odds. The modern viewer can hardly believe that the story of Charles Wittlesey is true because, taking into consideration the circumstances, in which Charles Wittlesey found himself, he would rather have died than survived. Nevertheless, the film shows that Charles Wittlesey was focused on the survival and he did not accept the idea that he could have died. In stark contrast, the survival was his only purpose and he was focused on the fulfillment of his duty as an American soldier. He struggled through all the hardships and survived and the fact of his survival symbolizes the spirit of an American soldier, who had never given in and who had struggled for his motherland, his family and his ideals.

Another remarkable story depicted in the film is the story of an ambulance driver, Richard Hall. In fact, this is a tragic story which reveals the readiness of ordinary people to self-sacrifice. At first glance, Richard Hall seems to be an ordinary person. He is just an ambulance driver, but, when he confronts the difficult situation he takes the decision which is truly heroic. Richard Hall decides to sacrifice himself for the sake of other people. In this regard, it should be said that his decision is strange for modern people because, in a highly individualistic society, it is impossible to sacrifice one’s life for the sake of other people, who you do not even know. At the same time, the story of Richard Hall is very important to modern people because it reveals truly humanistic values as opposite to modern, consumerist values. What is meant here is the fact that modern people live in the consumerist society, but the story of Richard Hall is a sample of humanism, a different system of values which has nothing in common with modern consumerist values. His story proves that there are more important values than material ones. In fact, Richard Hall proves that the life and happiness of people are the highest values, which are worthy of self-sacrifice.

Furthermore, the story of Red Cross nurses is one more example of heroic deeds of American women. In fact, Red Cross nurses risk their lives supporting the troops. In this regard, the story of Red Cross nurses is similar, in a way, to the story of Richard Hall. At the same time, Red Cross nurses proved the readiness of American women to take risk for the sake of other people. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the deeds of Red Cross nurses are particularly remarkable, taking into consideration the fact that women used to be viewed as inferior to men, while heroism was traditionally attributed to men but not women. However, Red Cross nurses proved that women are able to commit heroic acts and their heroism during World War I had started the new era in the feminist movement. Due to their heroism, Red Cross nurses showed that American women can be equal to men and the effect of their heroism can be traced in the modern society for it stimulated the emergence of feminism in the USA and encouraged many women to struggle for their rights and liberties.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the film “World War I: An American Legacy” describes numerous cases of heroism of ordinary Americans. This documentary can be viewed as a sample of true heroism of American people in probably the most difficult time in the US history. At the same time, the film reminds about the danger of World War I and its impact on the life of Americans.

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