1914, Breaking News

Un webdocumentaire de Bruno Masi

1914-BREAKING NEWS is a web-documentary project broadcast on ARTE’ s web site and that relates, exactly 100 years later, our fellow citizens’ daily lives in an age of that saw the dawn of modern aviation, advances in science and hygiene, and wide-scale works on roads and canals. The era of Jaurès, Clémenceau and Maurras as well as Sarah Bernhardt, Picasso, Caruso and Apollinaire.


Relating daily life

Every day, we’ll look at a photograph from 1914 that will take the visitor into the midst of current events, those of 100 years ago. Depending on whether the visitor is using a mobile phone, tablet or computer, this photo can be enhanced with more information: a detail that’s highlighted and explained, the scene and the context behind the photograph that we look into in greater depth, that we analyse and put into perspective, with add-ons that appear progressively. Visitors can zoom in on images, look around, explore and uncover background information. The photographs show scenes from France, Germany, or the other side of the world. Brought together, they tell us about day-to-day life, and the inevitable story of the build up to the war.

The Weekend: A Different Time

On the other hand, on the weekend, instead of the photographs, the web site will broadcast a 1.30-minute recording. In the format of a weekly editorial, 1914-BREAKING NEWS’s videos will deal with all the subjects in current events that set the pace for daily life in 1914. Politics, social aspects, sport, culture, science and technology: the extreme variety of subjects will allow us to offer a multitude of themes, perspectives and treatments. Every week, these films, which will bring together photographs of the event in an original montage, will provide a counterpart to the weekdays’ short stories. They will also provide a more academic observation of the period, of “the big picture”, finally, depicting a world whose modernity we have forgotten.

Among the themes we will be dealing with are: women in Europe; the introduction of income tax in France; in Germany, the conflict between Bavaria and Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War; colonial Europe; the Panama Canal; health around Europe, etc. We will of course, on occasions, make particular reference to certain events to bring greater clarification: 8th March for the video on women’s status in 1914, the first day of the 1st interim downpayment for the video on the introduction of income tax…

Looking back into the archives

The artistic challenge: tell the week’s story using just a few period photographs! A few small photographs for a big chunk of History. A wide spectrum of moods, shapes, contrasts, perspectives, freeze frames, to accompany us on this journey into the inevitability of the way of the world. These films offer the spectator an immersion into the period through a historical discourse, and also aim to be poetic and humorous. Their images offer a second interpretation, sometimes offbeat, sometimes surprising and always unexpected.

Let’s sing a jingle

To lend acoustic support to the films’ narrative, a poetic and hypnotising piano tune will be used as an opening point with the tone and intention of the jingle developing over the weeks.  The general musical arrangement will also be transformed thanks to the occasional addition of samples chosen, for example, from vintage music from the period, sound effects, and/or other instrumental pieces, in order to follow each episode’s chosen theme and dramatization as closely as possible. This is an open formula that could give rise to numerous variations, on a theme that is evolutive in itself.

Thus, 1914-BREAKING NEWS plays on two timescales that are linked to the differences in use between weekdays and the weekend: photographs on weekdays, more befitting to a quick check-in, driven by social media, and a more in-depth video perspective on the weekend.

To sum up

1914-BREAKING NEWS offers an opportunity to explore social, economic, political, sporting and cultural current events throughout Europe a hundred years ago, as if we were actually there. It will allow us to explain the evolution of the context in which WWI was able to come about. It will endeavour to create connections between the two eras (1914-2014) by means of the narrative tools made available through the use of video and the Internet.

Produced by

Laurent Duret for Les Films d’Ici 2

Coproduction with


With the support of

Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée
Toute L’Histoire
Lyon Capitale TV
La Région Rhônes Alpes
La Mission Centenaire
Le Monde
Die Zeit
Power to the Pixel


Bruno Masi
Bérénice Meinsohn for the videos