In collaboration with York Explore and with the York Picture House, York Alternative History (YAH) Group ( is co-organising a programme of films offering critical perspectives on World War One, one of a series of events acknowledging the centenary of the five years of the so-called ‘war to end all wars’. This autumn YAH is co-organising a day school on Saturday 1st November in York: contact us for further details. It will include workshops on a variety of relevant topics.

How should we remember the First World War? Was it a just war against the militarism of Germany and its allies? A war between imperial powers fighting to extend their economic reach? An accident from which no combatant country was able to extricate itself? What we do know is that the outcomes were disastrous. Millions of dead, economies and nation states destroyed, a rewriting of the map of, in particular, Central and Eastern Europe (leading to the rise of fascism in German and Italy) and the Middle East (generating the turbulence and massive loss of life in, especially, Iraq, Syria and Palestine), and, of course, the Second World War, which extended the combat to become a truly global conflict. How do we remember the courage of those many who refused to participate? YAH hopes to raise some of these questions through its events. This is an opportunity to challenge common perceptions and some myths, and discuss and debate other perspectives than those of government.

See Picture House brochures for further details and booking arrangements or contact York Picture House , tel. 0871 902 5726, or
At most of the films, there will be a display of material including maps and photographs (courtesy of York Explore, see below) illustrating the impact that the war had on the residents of York, plus a brief talk to introduce the film and our wider programme of work. We hope to show films in future providing perspectives from some of the other major combatants (Germany, Turkey, Russia, USA), perhaps linked to key events such as Gallipoli.

The autumn programme

August 4   A night at the cinema 1914 (a compilation of short films, illustrating the context of the time: what 1914 felt like in the UK).
September 7  Paths of glory Kubrick’s anti-war statement in which a group of French soldiers revolt against a suicidal mission and are pursued by their corrupt superiors who demand their punishment.
October 5  WINGS An action film about early aviators: a humanist exploration of the devastating results of war. Winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture.
October 20  5 pm Le Grande Illusion Renoir’s first masterpiece is one of the greatest anti-war statements in cinema, a portrait of prisoners of war attempting to escape.
November 11  (Armistice Day) A special related film screening, further details to be announced shortly.
November 24  4.30pm Oh what a lovely war This famous anti-war satire thinly veils the horror of the war in song and dance routines performed by pierrots who regularly tot up the dead on a scoreboard.

For further information about critical perspectives on the war visit any of these websites:                                               

Explore Libraries and Archives, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Gateway to History project, is working with the Alternative History Society to share a distinctly York perspective on the First World War through a new pop-up exhibition. Based on unique archive documents held in the City Archives, the exhibition gives an insight into the local people and events that played a part in the War.

York Explore Library is set to reopen to the public at the end of 2014 with a brand new archive service, making collections accessible to everyone for the first time. In the meantime check out our Pinterest board to discover York’s role in the First World War.

Published by: contact us for further information, or visit:

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.