Kanal (Andrzej Wajda, 1957)

 Entering the sewers of human warfare (spoiler notice)

Kanal opens on German flamethrowers from a distance, setting alight a Polish town. There are no people running or screaming, no characters at all, just the fiery volleys and collapsing structures. The message is clear: the year is 1944 and terror stalks this country. We follow a militia of ordinary men set to oppose the occupier, but in the first line of narration learn their fight is hopeless and these men and women will die.