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Related: anonymity - war - aggression

Life and Nothing But (1989) - Bertrand Tavernier
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Philippe Noiret turns in an unforgettable performance as a French Army Officer given the thankless task of not only uncoverning the identity of all the dead of the post World War One battlefields but also the shell-shocked who reveal not their names but only speak in phrases or silly songs. On top of all of that the powers that be come up with the idea of honoring an 'Unknown Soldier' and ask our hero to provide one - an order that flies in the face of his assignment to return France's fallen sons to their loved ones. Also into Noiret's lap fall two women, one a humble teacher, the other a society lynchpin, who it becomes clear are searching for the same man. Noriet is no more impressed by the money or connections of the one than he is by the brass of the General Staff, but as a lonely man he finds himself increasingly drawn to her, but will his shy professionalism allow him to make a move? Wry humor and touching performances make this an important film that expresses the most depressing fact of all: Noriet cares more for the dead he must identify than their commanders cared about them when they were alive. - John Lease, via amazon.com

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

In World War I, huge numbers of soldiers died without their remains being identified. The practice developed for nations to have a symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that represented those unidentified soldiers.

They usually contain the remains of a dead soldier who is unidentified, and is thought to be impossible to ever identify. Much work goes into trying to find a certain soldier, and to verify that it is indeed one of your own soldiers. The United Kingdom first buried an Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey in 1920, leading other nations to follow their example. Although memorials to unknown soldiers of previous wars (such as the 1866 memorial to the unknown dead of the American Civil War) predate the Westminster Abbey one, it started the current trend. The most famous tomb is that in France under the Arc de Triomphe that was installed in 1921 honoring the unknown dead of the First World War.

These tombs are also used to commemorate the unidentified fallen of later wars. Although monuments have been built as recently as 1982 in the case of Iraq, it is unlikely that any further ones will be constructed. Advances in DNA technology mean that even the tiniest fragment of bone is usually identifiable. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier [Nov 2004]

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