Trench Warfare in A Very Long Engagement

         A Very Long Engagement, directed in 2004 by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, tells the story of a girl named Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) searching for her fiancé, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel). Manech was accused of self-mutilation to escape the military and sentenced to death along with several other men. They are thrown over the lines of the trenches into what was called no man's land. No man's land is the piece of land between the enemy and home lines. In this case they were between the trenches of the French and German. This all takes place in the trenches of the First World War. The movie depicts many aspects of trench warfare life and how extremely cruel it was for the soldiers.

         A technical definition of trench warfare is the type of fighting that happens when opposing armies both have static lines of fortification dug into the ground. The first trenches were seen in the American Civil War, but the harshest and most deadly were formed in World War I. A staggering ten percent of soldiers died in the trenches of World War I. Generally, armies create trenches when there has been advancement in fire power without similar advancements in communication and mobility.

         It is reported that to this day on the Western Front remains of soldiers are still being found in fields where farmers are beginning to plough the land and dig building foundations.

Stephanie Cain

Table of Contents