This is a new film, made in Belgium by MN Films in preparation for the start of the WW1 Centenary in 2014. It is in fact made up of several shorter films covering the period 1914-1917 but they can all be viewed in one stream from the main menu. It is a ‘traditional’ style film in that it is a story told by a narrator, backed up with archive film, stills and some modern re-enactments. There are no contributors but a lot of first hand accounts of the war are woven into the narrative; not just from British but also German and local Belgian sources too. The film has good production values, although the music can somewhat over-dominate the sound levels in some parts of it. I found it a pleasant film to watch, and it will certainly be of interest to the Great War enthusiast.
However, the film does have some shortcomings. Despite being called ‘The Salient’ it never really explains what a salient or what The Salient is: it presumes the viewer knows that. It is also follows what could be described as a modern Belgian approach to WW1, seen clearly in some local museums and on some recent memorials; that the war was a total waste fought by young boys who were callously sent to a pointless and futile death by old men out of touch with the war. That is of course an opinion, but not one that follows current historical thinking or research and harks back to an earlier period of Great War historiography. The chronology of the film is also a little odd. It covers 1914-1917 but really in that time frame only looks at First, Second and Third Ypres. There is very little about the very important mid-1915 to mid-1917 period when The Salient was at its peak, and why nothing on 1918? The first hand accounts were pretty much all drawn from works by Lyn MacDonald, but there was no acknowledgement of that.
This is not a film that will appeal to everyone, and a general audience may find it confusing in places, but it is a heartfelt tribute driven by a personal connection to the Great War.
The DVD can be purchased from the MN Films website.