When the United States enters World War I, three young men from New York end up in the same company – a construction worker, a bartender, and Jim Apperson, son of a wealthy manufacturer. After boot camp, the company is shipped to the French village of Champillon, where Jim falls in love with farmer’s daughter Melisande. Once sent to the front, amid the craters of no-man’s-land, they experience the full horror of war … The characters seem at first almost to develop as if in a rural romance film, but in the second part, they are quickly ground to a pulp. Told from Jim’s perspective, The Big Parade puts average soldiers at the centre of the story. As King Vidor put it, “he wasn’t a hero. He was just a guy who went along, and watched, and observed, and reacted”. As the second-highest grossing silent film of all time, it established MGM as a major studio. Its radical naturalism, which did not shy from showing the humanity of opponents of war, was a key influence on anti-war films that followed. For King Vidor, it was the opening salvo in a trilogy of films on his cardinal leitmotifs of “war, wheat, steel”, to be rounded out by Our Daily Bread and An American Romance.
by King Vidor
With John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Hobart Bosworth, Claire McDowell, Claire Adams, Robert Ober, Tom O’Brien, Karl Dane, Rosita Marstini, Julanne Johnston
USA 1925 English intertitles 150’ Black/White & Tinting, 35 mm Restored version 2004

With

  • John Gilbert
  • Renée Adorée
  • Hobart Bosworth
  • Claire McDowell
  • Claire Adams
  • Robert Ober
  • Tom O’Brien
  • Karl Dane
  • Rosita Marstini
  • Julanne Johnston

Crew

DirectorKing Vidor
ScreenplayHarry Behn
StoryLaurence Stallings, Plume (1925)
CinematographyJohn Arnold
EditingHugh Wynn
Art DirectorCedric Gibbons, James Basevi
CostumesEthel P. Chaffin
ProducerKing Vidor

Produced by

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew’s, Inc.)

Additional information

Print: Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, Hamburg

King Vidor

Filmography (selection)

1919 The Turn in the Road; Lost film 1925 The Big Parade (Die große Parade) 1928 The Crowd (Ein Mensch der Masse) 1929 Hallelujah 1934 Our Daily Bread (Der letzte Alarm) 1938 The Citadel 1940 Northwest Passage (Nordwest-Passage) 1947 Duel in the Sun (Duell in der Sonne) 1949 The Fountainhead (Ein Mann wie Sprengstoff) 1956 War and Peace (Krieg und Frieden) 1959 Solomon and Sheba (Salomon und die Königin von Saba)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020