The Lost Battalion (2001) WWI TV Remake

The Lost Battalion is a US made for TV movie based on a true story that happened during the last weeks of WWI. It’s seems to be a remake of the 1919 movie The Lost Battalion. I haven’t seen the film from 1919, so cannot comment on how well it’s been remade.

Set in 1918 The Lost Battalion tells the story of the 77th American division which got caught behind enemy lines in the Argonne Forest, in France. Major Whittlesey is assigned one of those incomprehensible suicide missions of which there were so many during WWI. Together with 500 men he is to attack the German forces in the Argonne Forest. Additional forces are sent out to give support through the flanks but before even arriving on the assigned post, they retreat.

Out of a sense of duty Major Whittlesey and his men hold out despite the fact that they have no food, no water, no ammunition. The siege lasts 5 days and costs the life of 300 men. Most of the men are from New York, they are Irish, Polish, Italian and Jewish immigrants which, according to Whittlesey, contributed to the success as they are known to be reckless fighters.

I know this is a movie that quite a lot of people like but I must honestly say, I found it quite boring. It’s combat intense and seems quite accurate but the story isn’t told in a very suspenseful way. There are no outstanding characters either. It has a few additional flaws which I’ve noticed in other TV productions and which bothered me after a while. The wounds look garish instead of horrible wounds because the color of the blood is an intense orange. The acting was average but not too painful.

Still, I suppose it’s a worthy effort as we don’t see a lot of WWI infantry combat movies from a US perspective and according to the film this battle helped break through the German lines and ultimately was a key factor in ending the war. That certainly deserved to be told. If accuracy is the most important thing for you, don’t miss it. I prefer a well-told or interestingly filmed story.

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10 thoughts on “The Lost Battalion (2001) WWI TV Remake

  1. nem baj says:

    The 1919 movie is a rather dull piece of propaganda, quite loose on military history. There are a few interesting points though: the physical presence of actual veteran officers (quite a gallery of male faces and bodies, so different from today’s ‘neat’ castings), the obvious rigidity in people’s social behaviour (reverence to the elders, social boundaries… but there are many other silent films which display this), and finally an ode to the American melting-pot, without African-Americans… but highly inclusive of Asian-Americans (from the beginning sequence where New-York Chinese gangsters are enrolled, to the heroic stance in combat near the end).

  2. the war movie buff says:

    A bit harsh. It is good for a made for TV movie with a small budget. The acting is spotty because the actors are second rate. They are sincere and do their best, but you get what you pay for. I think the over the top scene, while garish, was well done. Very graphic for TV. I show it in class with my WWI unit. It is pretty accurate and tells a story that deserved a movie.

    • I thought it would be accurate but that’s that. It is very combat intense and I’m sure realistic and I agree it was worth telling, still the script could have done with some more dynamic story telling.

  3. Guy Savage says:

    TV movies can be a mixed bag. As The War Movie Buff points out, they typically suffer from a low budget (not a good thing in this sort of film). HBO seems to make some great TV films.

    • HBO does usually everytging right. And some of my favourite war movies/series are TV productions. When Trumpets Fade for example, if you’ve never seen that, that’s a stunning film. This one was okish.

  4. Bulletskill says:

    I watched this movie on a rainy afternoon when I had nothing else to do and actually enjoyed it immensely. It’s no ‘Saving Private Ryan’ or such like but it’s a TV movie and was never going to be in that bracket.

    It’s definitely a lot better than ‘The Trench’ or ‘Passchendaele’ that’s for sure!

    • It’s certainly better than Passchendaele. I can’t remember The Trench. I actually think I liked it but I’m not sure at all, I’ll have to re-watch it. I never reviewed it, so that’s not the best sign.

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