War can be good.

Well, we’ve done Romance. And we’ve done Sci-Fi. So how’s about my top ten war films of all time? Obviously, no laughing matter. But neither are Sci-Fi films if you live in my head. (They’re all true, you know.) Here are mine – I’d love to hear yours: Stalingrad_film Stalingrad: As told from the Germans’ point of view. Something we don’t see an awful lot of in this country. Soldiers on the edge of the abyss. Truly horrific and heart-wrenching to see how the common soldier suffers and endures. (And my grandad fought there too. On t’other side, mind. He was a P.O.W. in a Nazi concentration camp.) The-Deer-Hunter-1978-movie-wallpaper The Deer Hunter. War has a lasting impression. A deep, psychological impression. But the bond of kinship is stronger. Pittsburgh steelworkers go to Vietnam and are so traumatised by their experience one of them stays to be a Russian Roulette ‘celebrity’. His ‘buddy’, who has designs on his wife, returns to rescue him from his psychosis. MV5BMTcyMzQ5NDM4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODUwNDg3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_ Who could forget, Colonel Kurtz? A fucked-up soldier in a fucked-up war. Vietnam/Cambodia. A US colonel goes renegade/insane due to the horrors he has witnessed/enacted. And Martin Sheen is on his case as the US assassin to cover up his atrocities. “The horror.” abridgetoofar1977 Okay, a bit of a Hollywood epic. Still a great movie for its grasp of the complete and utter failure of a mission. Not just a failure of the mission, but the ineptitude of allied commanders and politicians. And a true story. 220px-Hamburger_hill Hamburger Hill. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. But what I like about this film is the absolute futility of war. It’s like watching dominoes being knocked over. But they aren’t dominoes. They are human beings who bleed and die. It was this or Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket. (Or Paintlater’s Three Kings.) MV5BNjczODkxNTAxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTcwNjUxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR9,0,214,317_ Probably one of the best war stories ever told. A squad of Rangers are sent out to rescue a para, whose two brothers have also been recently killed, from behind D-Day enemy lines. (It’s a PR exercise by the US govt.) How many should die to save one man? Could’ve done without the ‘book-ends’ in my book. platoon-movie-poster You didn’t think I’d forget Platoon, did you? As usual, the only people to get screwed are those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. A masterpiece in social microcosm. 9th-company It’s the Russian version of Hamburger Hill/Stalingrad. A forlorn company tries to hold out against a horde of Afghan liberators. And when I say ‘horde’, we’re talking ‘Zulu’ territory. cross of iron Another one from Germany’s point of view. But this time made in Hollywood. James Coburn shows his commanding officer just what it takes to win the coveted Cross of Iron. His C.O. wants the medal but also likes to lead from the back. Not in Coburn’s book. MV5BMTk0MjIyNTA1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM3MzU5._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_ And … the Oscar goes to … my all-time favourite: The Thin Red Line. An absolute masterpiece of poetry and war by Terence Malick. How nature, life, love and war de-harmonise in the Pacific. Not exhaustive by any stretch. And I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads. ‘All quiet on the western front’ might get a few votes. Feel free to suggest your faves.


Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Cross of Iron, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Screenplays

4 responses to “War can be good.

  1. I love A Bridge Too Far and Platoon but my fave is Three Kings, an unusual war film but of its time. Cheers

  2. David, I was on the verge of ‘de-following’ you or worse when I saw your title but thought I should probably read the post first! I’m not a war film person ~ or I thought I wasn’t ’til I realised I’d seen at least half the films you mention, But, what I really want to say is how I admire the way you’ve used the films to comment on some of the deeper aspects of war. So, I owe you an apology for ever doubting you!

    • Hi Jean,

      I must admit, I was a bit nervous of the title for the very reason you mention – so absolutely no need to apologise.

      Like you, I’m not a big war-movie fan. Give me a French romance any day. I’m not really interested in war films that are just gratuitous action flicks showing horrific suffering as heroic.

      A friend of mine put a list of the top 50 war films on my FB page and I was surprised to learn I’ve hardly seen any of them.

      But I do like movies that try to make some point about either the futility or the suffering that war brings – usually to those who are not involved in causing, or orchestrating it.

      Thanks for sticking with me!

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