The Big Parade (1925)
Genre: Drama War Romance
Starring: John Gilbert (Queen Christina), Renée Adorée
Directed By: King Vidor (The Crowd)
Overview: In this story of a young playboy gone to war, we follow him in his experiences camaraderie, love and battle.
Acting: There are so many characters worthy of mention that it's obvious Vidor spared no scene from focus. From the love interest to Jim's two soldier friends, from the officers to Jim's family, everyone plays their role with appropriate humour, drama or tragedy. Making a film so versatile in their genres like this one where we go from comedic romance to battlefield drama can't be easy, but the cast made it look like it was. Really amazing.
Cinematography: King Vidor may not have been as big on imagery as he was on realism, but his stories are still visually stunning and poignant. The scene with the caravan of over 300 trucks going up the road to the front lines, followed by the march across the wasteland field and the night attack... I don't know how you couldn't be moved by this.
Script: There's quite a bit of intertitles in this one with war chants, real drama, and real character development. I've said before that the silent era has to do what it can to minimize the dialogue, to tell the story through acting, but after seeing this, I realize anything can be done, as long as the delivery is good, and this certainly delivers.
Plot: A war movie. Great. There's going to be battle and shooting and loss and we're all going to be sad. I guess I'll watch this scene where he meets a girl... Ok, well this scene has turned into half the movie already... Wait a minute! This is actually a good story that's different than the rest of all the war movies out there? An actual story about one man's journey? A character study rather than a historical account? Well THAT's original!
Mood: The silent film is a crap shoot. Sometimes you'll watch a film so old that the contextual relevance is gone. War, love, friendship, these are all the strongest of concepts, and when you watch this you will certainly be there with Jim during all his trials and tribulations. It's nice to have a war movie that isn't all war. It's almost like the director was explaining what they were fighting for... hmmm...
Overall Rating: 84% (March Out And See This)
Aftertaste: For the movie that is the highest grossing silent film of all time, I'll agree that you should spend your money on this one. It's serious enough, funny enough, honest and deep enough to appease everyone who watches it. There are so many World War II stories out there, but to date this is the third World War I film I've seen yet. All Quiet on the Western Front and Joyeux Noel are both highly recommended in my books, and this has certainly earned it's place in the trifecta.