There aren't a whole lot of WWI veterans left (I think there's less than a handful of Americans), which is a shame with Memorial Day coming up since many people aren't familiar with the significance of that Great War. It certainly hasn't helped that Hollywood -- the history textbook writer for many young Americans -- hasn't been interested in the first World War as a subject for a long time. The studios used to produce great WWI films like Wings, All Quiet on the Western Front and Sergeant York. Then WWII came along and became the more popular war, with its definite villain, Adolph Hitler. Meanwhile the best WWI movie we've gotten in awhile (from the U.S., anyway) is the terribly cartoon-like Flyboys, which actually had to be made independently.

There's hope on the horizon, though, as a new WWI epic is being written by Christopher McQuarrie. The screenwriter of The Usual Suspects and the upcoming WWII movie Valkyrie, McQuarrie is interested in making a film that not only depicts the Great War, but also explains it. His script, titled No Man's Land (not to be confused with the German WWI film Niemandsland or the recent foreign Oscar-winner No Man's Land) focuses on the stories of three soldiers who stand in to illustrate the reasons for their nation's involvement in the war. One is an American who fights first for the French Legion and then for the U.S.; one is a Brit who is wrongly accused of being a coward; and the third is a German trench dweller.

Of course, the movie will also be filled with grand fight sequences, including a staging of the tragic Battle of the Somme, in which 19,000 British soldiers died. McQuarrie will not just be using that event for spectacle, however; the battle will be a part of the writer's attempts to show the significance of new technology like machine guns and tanks, which completely changed the ways wars are fought. There is still no real Hollywood involvement with No Man's Land, which is being co-produced independently by Spitfire Pictures and 2929 Productions (Good Night, and Good Luck), but McQuarrie hopes the film will join the rank of All Quiet on the Western Front, as well as non-Hollywood classics The Paths of Glory and Gallipoli. Hey, if No Man's Land is even half as good as any of those films, I will be first in line.