August 1914 was one of the most momentous months of the twentieth century. It was the month that saw the fallout from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo draw in every major European power to a new conflict: The Great War.
A war which was powered by the might of industry and the culmination of the arms race that had been taking place during the preceding decade. A war which was fought by generals who didn’t know how to fight it. A war which was fought, for the first time, by the soldiers at the front and the people left at home.
The Great War was epic in every conceivable way. It was also one of the twentieth century’s greatest tragedies, and defined the arrogance of the Edwardian period, with its politicians and generals sleepwalking towards its ultimate catastrophe.
The contrast between the enormity of the overall conflict and the individuals involved at a personal level is perhaps the most striking of any human conflict ever fought. This is what I want to explore in this film. All the millions of men who fought, and died, and lived, had their own stories. And here I focus on the lives of just two soldiers – one English, and one German – and how these two lives affected and touched the lives of others: their wives, their lovers, their children, their comrades, and each other.
I want to show a part of the war that was more Napoleonic than modern in nature. When the British Expeditionary Force went to France in August 1914 they had five battalions, one of which was cavalry: they used horses and lances against machine-guns. And artillery was pulled by horses throughout the war.
The concept of trench warfare became established fairly quickly in the autumn of 1914, but in August and September – when this is set – there were no trenches. Armies, and scouting detachments like the one in the film, moved around in open terrain using ancient tactics with modern weapons and machine guns. Tragedies always need more than one thread to make them such, and this is just one of those many threads.
The others present themselves in the film.
Development for Series One of the television series is now complete. For production or co-production options and opportunities, investment opportunities or distribution agreements please contact the creators or executive producers.