For, Oct. 11, 2013

Making its DVD debut is "The Big Parade," on the Warner Home Video label, with a gorgeous transfer of this 1925 silent film depicting World War I in a manner that was not at all sensational, and which influenced virtually every wartime drama that followed.

John Gilbert, a huge star during the silent era, has the lead role as a wealthy layabout who has no intention of joining the war effort, until he catches patriotic fever from some friends and signs up. Stationed in France, Gilbert falls in love with a French girl, but is soon thrown into the fray.

The film's focus on the human side of war, the tragedies and triumphs, and the realities of coming face to face with the prospect of killing another human being, is conveyed in a timeless, still convincing way and the battle sequences remain startling.

"The Big Parade" ranks very high among silent films that have retained their power and it's been out of circulation for far too long. Kudos to Warner Home Video for bringing it to the fore once again.