'The Cemetery of France' The title of this film cites the words used by French President Michel Lebrun in 1932 to describe the battlefield of Verdun, site in 1916 of one of the most brutal battles of the Great War. The CRIC Research Project has studied the post-war reconstruction of the battlefield and in this film, researcher Dr Paola Filippucci from Cambridge University's McDonald Institute discusses some of the findings of the project. As she explains, partly because of the extent of destruction the battlefield was declared off-limits for ordinary settlement and turned into a forest, containing only burials, memorial monuments and vestiges of the battlefield. The post-war history of the battlefield landscape shows that since its reconstruction in the 1920s, the forest has matured and developed significant biodiversity, with many rare plant and animal species thriving in some of the man-made wartime vestiges (shell-holes, forts and dugouts). This creates today a new type of heritage value on the battlefield, and as we move towards the centenary of the Great War in 2014, it gives rise to new debates about how to protect and valorise this landscape so as to harmonise historical and natural heritage. This case study shows that reconstruction after conflict is a very long-term process, that leaves a material legacy that continues to change and to interrogate later generations after the disappearance of direct survivors.
This film gives an overview of a forthcoming book chapter with the same title.
The CRIC Research Project is directed from the McDonald Institute at the University of Cambridge. CREDITS: With thanks to CRIC research colleague Professor Jean-Paul Amat Filmed at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Animation: Prosper Unger-Hamilton Producer: Lindy Fleming The CRIC Research project is funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme