High Treason (1928)

Article 2141 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-25-2007
Posting Date: 6-23-2007
Directed by Maurice Elvey
Featuring James Carew, Basil Gill, Alf Goddard

In the future (1950, to be exact) the world is split up into the European States and the Atlantic States. A conspiracy sets up an international incident at a border station in order to bring the two nations to war in the hopes of profiting by it. As the anger and tension spirals, a peace organization based in London sets its sights on preventing war, eventually taking drastic measures to do so.

This was one of the movies made on the cusp of the sound era, so both sound and silent versions were made. I’ve not seen the sound version, but this one is pretty interesting if flawed. The movie definitely has a point of view, especially at the end when a certain character is lit in such a way as to make him a Christ figure. If you set aside the propaganda aspect, it’s an interesting exploration as to how a war can start with a single incident and how fear, misunderstanding, and some nudging from a small conspiracy can bring things to a head. I like some of the moral issues the movie brings up, even if it takes a somewhat simplistic approach to it; in particular, I found myself wondering about whether any causes really do require extreme measures to support them. I do like the visions of the future, even if they’re a little dated from our vantage point in time, and even if much of the effects obviously look like models. And even if the movie definitely takes a pacifist viewpoint to the proceedings, it’s undercut by moments such as the woman (who has been drafted into the war effort) who decides that war is hell once she sees the ugly uniform she’ll have to wear.



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