The title of this write-up is actually pretty deceiving. It's not really about A War
, or at least it probably won't be. It's more about how its depicted for those of us not really likely (or lucky) to see it or experience
it for ourselves. Think about it - most people
are pretty reluctant to go into war
, now at least, after watching all the media
of it in action. Which means, the less more gung-ho enough to leap headfirst into killing, dripping with bloodlust
- the better. But anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I've always had a curious facination with war. Its strange, I'm not like a collector, enthusiast or even a supporter, I just find it interesting how complete strangers with no actual anger towards each other personally (usually) can kill the other person in cold blood. War, in actuality, is stupid. The only merit behind it is that it can cause economies to boom, and kick everyone up and into gear. But the ACT of war, mind you, is senseless, useless and avoidable. People so obsessed and paranoid that another country is spying on them, that they then have to spy on THAT country, just to check that they aren't spying on THEM, then building a multi-billion dollar weapon to blast everyone to bits. Then, the accusations come - "You did this, you did that" - Then 2 weeks later, one flex's its military muscle and tada - you've got war.
Don't get me wrong though, I know that good concequences for good reasons can arise in this subject. For example, World War 2 was horrific - thousands dead, millions injured, scarred for life. BUT - It stopped the invasion and reign of a sadistic dictator, and spawned inventions that we depend on to live. Its quite touchy. The vietnam war though, was a complete and utter mistake in mine, and most other people's, opinions. Jumping in on a fight that had NOTHING to do with U.S interests, having no immediate threat to U.S freedoms, but aimed to "help" a certain side? It was basically cival war for fucks sake! Thousands of U.S (and Australian) soldiers senselessly killed for no reason at all. Which then leads to my next "war" and point...
Black Hawk Down is a movie releasing in a few months that details the story of a mission based in Somalia, Africa in 1993. Basically, a few groups of US Rangers and US Delta Force Spec-Op troops were sent in on a "basic" mission to capture a warlord who was stealing food in the area, which was suppost to serve the starving Somalian people. Anyway, at some point, a black hawk helicopter was shot down and the whole thing turned into a massive mess of killing and one aim - to rescue those who needed it.
Sounds carbon copy war movie right? Wrong. This movie in particular was based on a fantastic novel of the same name, on a real life mission. Yep - this isn't Saving Private Ryan or Pearl Harbor with their candy coated "epic" written all over them. The thing is, the novel was especially gory and breathed realism. Stories of ethical and moral decisions (Somali warriors would shield themselves with women and children to avoid them getting shot), stories of bravery and genuine courage, stories of fear and emotion. Now - the question I ask is that will the movie be faithful to the novel? Which, I might add, is the most blunt record of war events I have ever seen.
No. It won't. And why? Because the director wants to protect the interests of the general public, the censors and the government. I've already seen some reviews, and while it deems faithful to the book (No "main" character, large "cast", correct locations, history, weapons and soldiers - inc. names), a lot of the controversial material will be left out. I.E. The killing of women and children, the racial anguish of the soldiers, and many of the other "emotional" elements of war. Strange, because any psycho can pick up a weapon and kill. But for a 18yr old soldier who hasn't had a feeling of bloodlust in his life to pick up an assault rifle and gun down 2 10 yr old kids - there has to be some emotions there. Fear, anger and desperation to name a few. But WHY is it strange? Because noone, even with years of training, would find it easy to kill or shoot someone for the first time. Noone would find it easy to gun down half a town of innocent people, or starving, desperate people.
Thats what I found missing from most war movies - Especially Saving Private Ryan. It seemed like every soldier in that movie (bar most in the intro) were pumped and ready to kill anything in their path without remorse.
Another aspect of war films comes down to what direction it runs into. IS the war flick basically saying "War is good" or is it saying "War is bad". Or maybe "This War was useless" or a variety of different stances. Many epic war films (Namely Private Ryan or Pearl Harbour) like to give the large stance that the allies were rightly so in everything they did. That that war meant something and god helped them if anyone said against it.
I fucking hate that attitude.
As I mentioned before, the physical attributes of war are horrific. Most people can't even COMPREHEND how many deaths 100,000 is. It may seem small when you think of a population, but remember how saddened people were then the 2995 poor souls died on Sep 11. Thats less then 10% of 100,000. So when war films glorify their aim, and say "Hey, so what is a couple hundred people died - we won!" - thats not what I like to see. A neutral stance if any - A respect for those who died. No matter what side. Most soldiers fought under threat of death in a lot of countries in the 30's - Especially russia and germany. A soldier in either army, one that particularily did not want to be there, was just doing what he had to survive.
Anyway - Here are the catagories of movies I've seen for those interested.
Recent Epics - Saving Private Ryan, Thin Red Line, Pearl Harbour, Black Hawk Down.
SPR is generally a well done movie. Beautifully filmed, great acting - but the moral is sketchy. Was it aimed to promote the loyalty and courage of the US soldiers in that war? Or to embelish patriotism in the american people?
Thin Red Line - VERY long. Focuses a hell of a lot on emotion and the soldiers rather then the war itself (World War II battle at Guadalcanal). Very well done, very well shot and definately one of the best out there. Not as gory as SPR but you can relate to the characters a hell of a lot better. The moral? War plays hell on the brain.
Pearl Harbour is pretty shit. Mixed in a love story with a dodgy plot line, very little action (and when shown is quite "hollywood" and staged). Moral is obvious - America was the victim, it was the Japanese's fault for causing all those casualties.
Black Hawk Down - I've yet to see it but its toted to be the best of the three in terms of war movies. It's also the one one of the three to be based around Urban Combat in the 1990's.
Older movies - Full Metal Jacket, Apocolypse Now
Full Metal Jacket - Easily one of the best war movies, ever. Within 20 mins of its beginning I was capivated through its very emotional 3 hours. Based around the vietnam war, it follows a marine through training, then onto the battlefield. More tense situations then full on gunfights - I found it quite refreshing (Gen X or not - I'm not completely unsensitive to violence) that it focused on attitudes of soldiers and their reactions to the situation around them.
Apocolypse Now - Currently out in the movies with extra footage (AP Redux), AP is easily the most disturbing film based on war out there. Very surreal, very strange, but absolutely brilliant. Raved as the best war film very created,is also based on the controversial Vietnam war. A must see.
Anyway - Thats that done. I hope I havent offended or amused anyone too much, because that would be just plain rude.