This is a familiar picture - a French soldier, attacking with his comrades, is shot as he approaches the enemy trenches.
But does it?
And here is a third, showing troops and vehicles moving along the Voie Sacrée towards Verdun.
But does it?
And the answer to all these questions is 'No'.
They are all stills from a feature film. Verdun: visions d'histoire was written and directed by Léon Poirier, and starred Albert Préjean, Jeanne Marie-Laurent and Suzanne Bianchetti. It was produced by the Compagnie Universelle Cinématographique, and released in 1928. It was one of three major films all released on or about the tenth anniversary of the Armistice - the others were Verdun tel que le poilu l’a vécu (Emile Buhot, 1927) and Le Film du Poilu (Henri Desfontaine, 1927).
Poirier had made his name in the theatre before moving into cinema in 1926 with the documentary film La Croisière Noire. He retained a documentary style for his film on Verdun, using actors who were also ex-servicemen, and filming on the actual battlefield, including the forts of Vaux and Douaumont. He refused to apportion blame, either for the battle or the war, but by depicting the battle as accurately as he could, hoping in that way to demonstrate the futility of war. As one veteran-turned-actor later commented to the director, 'Your film will do much to promote peace by bringing together France and Germany because we both need to better understand the spectacle of our common suffering.' The film remains one of French cinema's greatest war films. An essay by François-Olivier Lefèvre, in French is here; a shorter anonymous essay in English, here. There's also a Region 2 DVD of the film available down the usual Brazilian river.