Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

G   |    |  Comedy, Musical, War

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) Poster

The working-class Smiths change their initially sunny views on World War I after the three boys of the family witness the harsh reality of trench warfare.


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1 November 2006 | patrick.hunter
| To the millions who died thinking they were making this a better world...
So many of us in the United States are clueless about the significance of the red poppy which recurs so often in the movie. First of all, it is not an opium poppy. It is a symbol for peace. John McCrae, one of the great poets who were killed in World War I, wrote in the following in his anti-war poem "In Flanders Fields":

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row by row,. . .

If yea break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

Anyway, shortly after WWI, in the early nineteen-twenties, the red poppy became the symbol of remembering and honoring the heroic dead. The day for remembrance became November 11, the date World War One ended. These days, I fear, most people in the United States think of November 11 not as "Remembrance Day" or "Armistice Day" but more as just Veteren's Day. It rarely even falls on November 11, and, when it does, most Americans view it simply as time off work.

As critic Roger Ebert once said, OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR really isn't a movie at all, but a theatrical tableau. Like many a British muscial review, it contains little plot, much spirited music, and--in this case--the story of World War I. Some portions, as even director Richard Attenborough admitted, go on too long; however, so many other portions are just brilliant. Like other Attenborough movies, one hates to dislike it because its subject matter is so worthwhile and commands respect (will anyone do a remembrance film honoring the fallen dead of the present Iraqui conflict?) I know I gave it an 8, but I must say I don't quite know how to rate a movie like this one. There's nothing else in cinema like it.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

3 October 1969


English, French, German

Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Twickenham Studios, London, England, UK

Box Office

Gross USA:


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