- Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014
On July 28, 1914, a history-changing conflict erupted in Europe and rapidly spread across the world. The first truly global war was a bloody four-and-a-half year conflagration involving troops from more than 100 countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australasia. World War I, as it became known, redefined combat in the Industrial Age, created carnage unlike any the world had seen before and redrew international maps.
SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D is the most technologically advanced film ever made about the “war to end all wars.” Filmmaker Jonathan Kitzen’s riveting half-hour documentary pairs meticulously restored stereoscopic photographs with commentary by veterans of contemporary wars, dropping audiences directly into World War I trench warfare, as seen through the eyes of a soldier. The late Oscar®-winning actor and U.S. Army veteran Mickey Rooney provides heartfelt narration emotionally rooted in recollections of his own war experiences.
Produced by Academy Award®-winner Nicholas Reed (The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life), SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I with an exclusive one-week engagement at Regency Theatres Van Nuys Plant 16, starting Friday, July 25.
One of the most technically challenging film projects Kitzen has ever tackled, SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D merges technology, history and storytelling for a breathtakingly immersive cinematic experience. Employing the latest digital technology, the filmmakers have been able not only to restore original vintage 3D photographs of the battlefield created between 1914 and 1918, they have also improved the quality and clarity of the images, creating, in essence, the world’s oldest 3D film. SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D will be shown in state-of-the-art IMAX 70mm.
“As a medium, 3D works especially well in extremely tight quarters,” says Reed. “In this case, we experience the claustrophobia, urgency and emotional upheaval of the trenches just as the soldiers did. As seen on a huge IMAX screen, it is truly something that audiences will never forget.”
The film required the remastering of the original stereophonic images at 36 megapixels per eye or 18 times conventional hi-def. The technique stretches the capability of the most cutting-edge equipment available to its limit and exceeds the IMAX DI format by 300 percent.
“It’s one thing to work in 3D,” says Kitzen. “”It’s another challenge entirely to take 3D to the highest resolution possible. We have done that with film that is 100 years old, with images that were taken under grueling combat conditions and required extensive corrections. But when I look at it now, I know it was a battle worth fighting.”
Kitzen capsulizes the inhumanity of war in the story of a single battle: the Somme Offensive. One of the largest campaigns of the First World War, as well as one of the deadliest military operations in history, the Battle of the Somme was an early and graphic example of the gruesome consequences of trench warfare. More people died in one hour at the Battle of the Somme than were killed during the entire D-Day Offensive.
With an unprecedented amount of new and increasingly sophisticated weaponry on the battlefield, the military casualties suffered by the British surpassed their total casualties for all of World II. On the first day alone, the British forces suffered almost 60,000 casualties, greater than the total combined British casualties in the Crimean, Boer and Korean wars. Between July 1 and November 1, 1918, one million or more troops on both sides were killed or wounded. With tens of millions of soldiers deployed globally, total casualties for World War I have been estimated at more than 37 million including over 16 million deaths.
Both intimate and epic in scale, SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D creates an emotional portrait of the modern battlefield through first-hand accounts of soldiers who fought to survive in enemy territory. The last known surviving veteran of World War I died in 2012, but Kitzen has ingeniously used testimony by veterans of the conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan—an eerie and fascinating counterpoint that could have been written by the survivors of the early 20th century combat. These emotional “grunt-eye view” accounts provide a shockingly fresh portrait of the terror, the adrenaline, the thrill and even the smell of war.
World War I officially ended in 1918 on November 11 at 11 a.m., in hope that the numbers 11-11-11 would stand forever as a reminder of the devastating losses endured throughout the world. November 11, now variously known as Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day, is marked each year as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans everywhere.
SOLDIERS’ STORIES IN 3D is written and directed by Jonathan Kitzen. The film is produced by Kitzen and Nicholas Reed. Narration is by Mickey Rooney. Executive producers are Phillip Goldfine, Edward Boshell, Andrew Boemi. Co-producers are Ryan Azevedo, Grant Chen, Pip Reed and Jessica Henderson. Editor is Christian Glawe. Stereographic editor is Denise Quesnel. Sound design is by Matt Stephanson. Postproduction is by Emily Carr. University and Kajanga Technologies.
Facts about WORLD WAR I
On June 28, 1914, a Serbian terrorist shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. One month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, setting in motion a conflict that engulfed most of the world and became known as World War I.
World War I was also known as the Great War, the World War, the War of the Nations and the War to End All Wars.
While most of the fighting during World War I took place in Europe from 1914-1918, combat on land, sea and in the air extended to every ocean on earth and almost every continent.
World War I introduced a new, brutally efficient era of warfare, including the use of air power against civilians. The conflict saw the first widespread use of tanks, aircraft, submarines, flamethrowers, tracer bullets, depth charges, aircraft carriers and aerial drones.
Trench warfare first became common during World War I. Both sides literally dug in for combat with thousands of troops garrisoned below ground. Allied trenches were bare-bones installations, but Germany built comparatively spacious concrete-reinforced bunkers with electricity and telephone lines.
The machine gun, patented by Hiram Maxim in the U.S. in 1884, came into common use during World War I. The Maxim weighed about 100 pounds and was water-cooled. It could fire approximately 450-600 rounds per minute.
The largest artillery barrage in history took place during the Battle of the Somme. More than 1.7 million rounds of ammunition were fired in a single week—an estimated six shots per second at its peak.
Approximately 30 different poisonous gases were used during WWI, including the dreaded mustard gas. Until 1918, when gas masks with filter respirators were introduced, soldiers were instructed to hold a urine-soaked cloth over their faces to protect themselves from the fumes. At the end of the war, many countries signed treaties outlawing chemical weapons.
Although the U.S. government did not grant them citizenship until 1924, nearly 13,000 Native Americans served in World War I, including a group of Cherokee and Choctaw who were the precursors of the legendary Navajo code talkers of World War II.
The Harlem Hell Fighters were one of the few African American units that saw the front lines during World War I. For their extraordinary acts of heroism, the soldiers received the French Croix de Guerre, a medal awarded to soldiers from Allied countries for bravery in combat. In the U.S., however, their deeds were largely ignored and forgotten.
On Christmas Eve 1914, soldiers on both sides of the Western Front sung carols to each other. On Christmas Day, troops along two-thirds of the Front declared a truce, which lasted a week in some places. The following year, sentries on both sides were ordered to shoot anyone who attempted a repeat performance.
Millions of soldiers suffered “shell shock,” now known as PTSD, after suffering the horrors of trench warfare.
By the end of World War I, four powerful empires had collapsed: the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian.
The tremendous losses incurred by every country involved led British author H. G. Wells to famously coin the phrase “the war to end all wars,” but instead, World War I was a harbinger of the rapidly-increasing brutality of combat in a global society and set the stage for a century of industrial wars.
World War I transformed the United Stated into the largest military power in the world.
Jonathan Kitzen – Director and Writer
Kitzen is a multiple-award-winning film and documentary maker, and 2014 Oscar®-winning co-producer of The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. He recently drew great praise for his work producing and shooting Running with the Bulls 3D, a large-format film about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. His writing and directing work on the large-format 3D Cosmic Journey earned multiple film festival awards. He has been at the forefront of photographic/film technology and technical development for over 20 years and is one of the most sought-after consultants in the world of 3D film and television.
After graduating from Hampshire College, Kitzen continued his education at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts film program. While in college, he rose from intern to production manager of RM Enterprises of Long Island, where he produced the media campaigns for New York-based companies such as Grumman Aerospace. His documentary film From Tet to Tinseltown, about Vietnam veterans reflecting upon their own portrayal in Hollywood films, was critically acclaimed. At the same time, Kitzen privately produced a series of TV spots (in 35mm) for Jolt Cola, among others, before the age of 20.
Kitzen founded the company Meduza Systems and won the 2011 Mario Technology Award at the National Association of Broadcasters. Having carved out a niche in the “difficult to film” production areas, Kitzen and producer Nicholas Reed established Kallisti Media to take advantage of emerging media-related technologies. In 2012 they developed the highest-resolution digital camera in the world, the Leviathan, capable of recording 25-Megapixel full video at over 50fps. The camera is the first one of its kind to allow for full motion video in the Virtual Reality market.
Nicholas Reed - Producer
Oscar®-winner Nicholas Reed was formerly a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy. He combines that inner knowledge of aviation with a background in advertising and marketing, and has spent 16 years as a senior agent in Hollywood running the Motion Picture Literary Group at International Creative Management. He has been involved with some of the most influential artists, writers, directors and actors working today, as well as a large number of critically and commercially successful films and television series. Reed brings a wide breadth of knowledge, experience and relationships on creating, executing and marketing quality entertainment.
Working with writers, directors and actors, he has been involved with such movies as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Austin Powers I, II and III, Elizabeth, Training Day, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Moulin Rouge, The Bourne Identity series, Monster’s Ball, White Noise, Underworld I, II and III, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Borat, Live Free or Die Hard and Prince of Persia, among many others.