In Operation Michael (1937), Karl Ritter turns his lens toward the Great War and focuses on the often agonizing decisions that must be made by commanders. It is unusual in depicting the war as experienced by the General staff, a perspective rarely taken in German cinema. Operation Michael, launched on March 21, 1918, was a massive German effort to overwhelm the French and British before the Americans could arrive in force. The film Operation Michael focuses on the attempt to break a British stronghold, The Labyrinth. The General staff wrestles with mounting problems and the premature German occupation of the town of Beaurevoir triggers a British counterattack that threatens to short circuit the whole operation. As the situation deteriorates, a German staff officer, Major zur Linden (Mathias Wieman) leaves headquarters and takes command at the front. Surrounded and with the operation in jeopardy, zur Linden must call in annihilation fire on Beaurevoir and on himself, which destroys not only the enemy, but also the remaining German troops in the town. Operation Michael is saved, but at what cost!

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