The Battle (1911)

Not Rated   |    |  Short, Action, Drama


The Battle (1911) Poster

Union soldiers march off to battle amid cheering crowds. After the battle turns against the Union Army, one soldier runs away, hiding in his girlfriend's house. Ashamed of his cowardice, he... See full summary »


5.5/10
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Director:

D.W. Griffith

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10 May 2016 | deickemeyer
Every inch of film throbs with life
This picture, well named "The Battle," has in a more than ordinary degree that pleasing Biograph characteristic of throwing the spectator into the very heart of things before the first hundred feet have run their course. No need of the title to tell us that we are standing on the threshold of the great war between the North and the South. Every inch of film throbs with life; the ardent spirit of patriotism, that in those memorable days flamed up in every heart, the young soldiers so gay and so brave, the matrons and the maidens, sorrowing and cheering by turns. All these are moving and breathing in the first scenes on the screen. Scarcely have we absorbed the martial rhythm of the picture when we are hurried into a battle with stirring incidents and varying fortunes, ending after anxious moments of dreadful suspense in the victory of the North and the union of a very real and human pair of lovers. The picture is about a thousand feet long, but so intense and natural is its fascination, that at the end we could only realize that it was all over by a special effort of the will. The plot is exceedingly simple, but it is a simplicity full of art. How the audience will welcome this picture for its utter freedom from that clap-trap and commonplace, which are the bane of so many "military" and "historical" dramas on the silent stage. The hero is unconventional enough to be frightened out of his wits when he, a raw recruit, hears the roar of cannon and sees comrades falling by his side. He incontinently takes to his heels, as many a brave soldier has done before him at the first sight of the bloody horrors of war. Possessed with an insane fear, he runs to the house of his sweetheart, near which the battle is being fought. The girl, at first moved to laughter by the altered aspect of the gallant warrior of a few weeks ago, at last feels that unconquerable hate and loathing for a coward which nature has planted deep in every woman's breast. She shows her disgust in a violent outbreak and orders the man she had promised to marry when she believed him to be brave, out of the house. He is still insensible to shame and at last climbs out of the house through a window. The battle, which in the meantime had begun to grow warm, here comes to a temporary standstill, for the Northern general in command has been severely wounded and he has ordered the firing to cease. In the confusion succeeding to the notes of the bugler, the young soldier has recovered the control of his nerves and rejoins his comrades without being suspected. The conflict gets hotter and hotter, as the signal is given for a resumption of the fight. Both sides are well entrenched and fight with desperation. The grouping of the soldiers in the trenches, their unremitting fire, the martial fury of their officers are shown with realism that produces a perfect illusion. The wounded general, who has been taken to the house of the sweetheart, where he still gives commands and directs the battle, orders his men to hold the trenches at all costs. The struggle is both stubborn and brilliant and as yet the chances seem even, when the cry goes up in the Northern ranks: "No more ammunition!" In this perilous situation the young soldier, who before had run away, but now is most eager to make amends, volunteers to go through the lines of the enemy to request from General Grant either reinforcements or ammunition. Grant has no men to spare, but fits out a few wagons filled with ammunition and provides them with a scant escort to be taken to the hard-pressed Union ranks. This maneuver has not escaped the Confederates, however, who set fire to the bushes on the road where the powder wagons must pass. Several of the wagons are wrecked through the heat and the sparks of the fire. At last only one remains. The driver is shot to death on his seat, when the young soldier grips the reins and in the face of mortal danger brings the powder wagon through the burning road. The Confederates in the meantime observing the enemy's fire slacken and rightly guessing that this is due to a lack of ammunition, advance to the attack, while the Union soldiers are preparing to receive them with the bayonet. At this critical juncture, the much-needed powder wagon comes and the Union troops succeed in repulsing the Confederate attack. The young soldier, who has brought victory out of defeat by his heroic daring, receives the grateful words of his commander and what he prizes no less, the hand of the girl, whose faith in his manhood and courage is fully restored. "The Battle" is a perfect picture in a splendid frame. - The Moving Picture World, November 4, 1911

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Short | Action | Drama | War

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