By the early twentieth century, the United States had substantial economic interests in Central America, notably in banana cultivation, most of which was intended for export to the US. American companies owned or controlled the plantations, the railways, the ports, and sometimes the local governments, derisively termed “banana republics.”
During the initial offensive in the West, the German Army committed numerous war crimes in Belgium, including rape, firing on civilians, arbitrary executions, and property destruction, including the burning of the library at the Catholic University of Leuven. The Allies would take maximum propaganda advantage of these crimes, sometimes exaggerating them.
Composed in 1893 by Eugène Ysaÿe. Public domain.
Performed by Jean-Claude Féret, violin, and Christine Féret, piano, and used pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Source.
At the moment the Great War began, there were a number of German cruisers stationed all over the world. Though they were outnumbered by the Royal Navy, they attempted to interfere with British shipping, causing the Allies a lot of grief in the opening weeks of the war.
After the murder of Francisco Madero and the accession of Victoriano Huerta, the revolutionaries Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata returned to the field to fight against the new regime, joined now by the governor of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza, and Woodrow Wilson, who ordered the US military to seize the Mexican port of Veracruz.
Written and performed by Ed Kliman, and used pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0 license. Source.
Traditional. Public domain.
Performed by Kenmayer (mix), Sean Buss (Guitar), Elisa (vocals), and created as a supplement to the Educational Options Spanish course (edoptions.com). Used pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Source.
And yet, Wonder Woman is something of an anomaly at the box office: Hollywood rarely supplies Great War stories. Of the top 25 highest-grossing films from 2011 to 2016, just 14 percent were set during a clearly defined historical period, according to data from the Motion Pictures Association of America. Of those, two (The King’s Speech and Captain America: The First Avenger) were set during WWII; none were set during WWI.
Period war films remain prestige projects in Hollywood, and they still see fairly regular releases. But so far in the 2010s, several WWII-set films including Hacksaw Ridge (2016), The Imitation Game (2014), and The Book Thief (2013) have been nominated for Academy Awards, while Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse (2011) was the only nominee to take place during the Great War. WWI’s share of acclaimed films most often come from outside the U.S.—think of Australia’s Gallipoli (1981), the United Kingdom’s Regeneration (1997), or the 2016 French-German release Frantz. Iconic American contributions to the genre, such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) or All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, 1979), tend to be older.
So why is the Great War missing from the American movie theaters? The void stems in part from how the U.S. preserved the war in contemporaneous media. But a greater part, perhaps, has to do with how the conflict reflects on the U.S. as a nation….
The failure of Germany’s offensive in the West leads to a static front line that will not change very much for the next three and a half years. Military leaders on both sides considered what to do next.
The Great War began as a confrontation between Austria and Russia. As we have seen, it quickly developed into much more. But for the Austrians, the main dispute is still against Serbia, and against Russia for supporting her. The Austrians began this confrontation as an effort to prove Austria was still a Great Power. Ironically, 1914 would prove exactly the opposite.
President Wilson pushed a variety of important reforms through the 1913-14 Congress, including the Federal Reserve Act, making this one of the busiest Congresses in US History. As the Great War breaks out, the US remains neutral, but faces a financial crisis.