Movie Mirrors Index

Barbed Wire

(silent 1927 b 79')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on Hall Caine's novel, a French woman on a farm that has become a camp for German prisoners falls in love with one of the prisoners.

In France during the summer of 1914 people working on a farm learn that mobilization has been ordered. Young men march off, and Mona Moreau (Pola Negri) says goodbye to her brother André Moreau (Einar Hanson). The father Jean Moreau (Claude Gillingwater) tells Mona that the government has taken over their farm to use it as a prison camp.

German prisoners arrive. Acrobat and musician Hans (Clyde Cook) is one of the four who volunteers to work on the farm. Ludwig tries to work but is sick. Hans loses a bet that he could make Mona smile. Oskar Muller (Clive Brook) tells Mona in French that he is replacing Ludwig, who died.

Jean buys cows from Pierre Corlet (Gustav von Seyffertitz). He proposes again to Mona, who refuses. At the front men fight. A French soldier is caught on barbed wire, but a German soldier saves him. Jean and Mona learn that André was killed. Jean has a stroke. Oskar asks Mona to take a wreath from Ludwig's mother to his grave, and she does so. Col. Duval (Charles Lane) warns what the neighbors may say.

A year later prisoners help with the harvest. Mona gives Hans a job, and he follows his cap through a machine. Sergeant Caron (Ben Hendricks Jr.) offers Mona more men, and he tries to kiss her. Oskar fights him until the guards put him under arrest. Hans in German tries to tell Mona that Oskar is on trial. Sgt. Caron says that Oskar attacked him while trying to escape. Oskar says nothing; but Mona tells what Caron did, and Oskar confirms it. Col. Duval has Caron arrested and confines Oskar to camp for three months. The French say that Mona saved her German lover and call her a traitor. German prisoners cheer her, and she runs inside and prays because she loves him.

They all celebrate Christmas and sing "Silent Night." Oskar reads in a letter that his sister was killed, and he tells Mona, who comforts him. Jean sees them, gets upset, and collapses. His will leaves his estate to Mona. Oskar tells her he must not come there because the French hate him.

More prisoners arrive, and Col. Duval announces that the war is over. Hans makes Mona laugh and tells Oskar he can see her now. Oskar comes in and tells Mona he will try to get his job back in Paris.

Oskar shows Mona a letter from Paris rejecting him because he is German, and he asks her to go with him to Germany. She asks him to write first to learn if she would be welcome.

Pierre calls on Mona and sees Oskar. Pierre spreads resentment. Mona asks Oskar to take her to Germany; but a letter from his mother says that Mona would be an outcast. Mona asks, where can they go? Oskar says he must leave, and Mona goes with him. Blind André comes home, and Mona is told. She goes to André and embraces him. André asks about the German, and he accepts Oskar. André says their hatred would start another war. He speaks of the dead crying out for peace and says they must replace bitterness with love; he calls Oskar his brother.

This moving anti-war drama portrays how the hatred of the enemy perpetuates the hatred and war. Yet the soldier who has suffered the most from the war realizes how futile it is. Honest love turns the heart from hatred and resolves the conflict.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index