Sunday, December 25, 2016

Today -100: December 25, 1916: Somewhere in France blood is flowing

The French Senate unanimously rejects peace talks as long as there are German soldiers still on French soil.

Opening today: Cecil B. DeMille’s Joan the Woman, the Joan being Joan of Arc, played by opera singer Geraldine Farrar, who is also currently signing Madame Butterfly at the Met. The movie has a framing story set in the trenches of the Great War in which a soldier – an English soldier, curiously – discovers a sword and has a dream about Joan, or something. In this version, Joan has a boyfriend!

Also opening today: Snow White, with Marguerite Clark in the title role. You can watch the rather gorgeously restored version here.

And it’s the Grand Xmas Double Number of the trench newspaper The Wipers Times (now the B.E.F. Times). “Between ourselves I think the least said about ‘Peace on earth, goodwill to man’ the better, when most of the inhabitants of this planet are trying to ‘put it across’ someone or other in the most unpleasant way that lies handy.”

The poem “Gone” commemorates the dead of the 73rd Brigade, the brigadier, transport officer, etc, with the refrain “We ne’er shall forget his cheery face, Tho’ we’ve got another to take his place.”

And here’s the poem “Shattered Illusions”

It may be love that makes the world go round,
Yet with the statement oft I disagree;
It was not love (on that I’ll bet a pound)
That, last night, made the world revolve round me.
I cannot bring my mind to realise
That love inspired friend Fritz, when he propelled
A Minnie* of a most terrific size
In my direction, so, I had him shelled.

*Minnie: trench mortar (Minenwerfer)

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