Is There such a Thing as a Bad War Movie? Part II

I had an entry with almost this title a few weeks back and now, looking at it again, I think it was  totally misleading. I was slagging off Windtalkers because I truly didn´t like it but there are far worse movies out there that probably deserve much more to be called  “bad” than Windtalkers did. But this is actually not the annoying part, the truly annoying part is that I gave away a potentially very good title about a topic that would be worth looking into.

So I decided to take this title up again and  answer the question (as a matter of fact it is the blog entry that is being read most. I´m pretty sure this is not because people are so desperately in need to read something about how bad Windtalkers was, but they want to know: Are there bad war movies?). Rest assured: there a lot of bad war movies but to be totally franc here- I haven´t seen many. I really try to avoid them. But that goes for every movie that I would call bad, only what is bad for one genre is not necessarily bad for another one, right? I mean who blames Koyaanisqatsi for its lack of dialogue?

Now, what is a bad war movie? Anything boring or with a lack of psychologically well-developed character portraits, unrealistic acting etc. Inaccurate rendering of history. All this together is a little bit the problem with Windtalkers. Still as clichéd as it was plus  the bad acting it wasn´t on top of that harmful. There is a combination of gung-ho violence glorifying, macho movies that are not only bad but also harmful. Actually we are talking about movies for which the war theme is just a pretext to show violence. Or romance. Yes actually any drifting off of the message: war is not nice or beautiful or to be wished for and it´s neither a great opportunity to show what a powerful man I am nor the most intense and therefore wished for background to romantic entanglement, any drifting off of those messages is pretty harmful.  Furthermore movies that are totally biased in which the enemy is shown as an anonymous mass short of a wild animal or cartoon-like baddie, would have to be called bad. Propaganda is something else that I would call bad. Idealizing is bad as well (an otherwise good movie like We were soldiers does a lot of that) and I think war movies shouldn´t be corny.

In short – yes I know I repeat myself here – any war movie that is not essentially an anti war movie is bad.

Well… Feel free to comment. Would like to hear your opinion on this.

2 thoughts on “Is There such a Thing as a Bad War Movie? Part II

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    I agree. Certainly it is possible for a war movie to be bad. It is even possible for a movie that critics laud to be bad. Recently I watched Fire Base Gloria because Video Hound gave it 4 stars and I respect their reviews. It was horrible! My biggest peeve with bad war movies is disregard for historical accuracy and lack of realism in showing what soldiers go through. For instance, I had a problem with The Thin Red Line not showing the soldiers sweating their asses off in the hold of a ship in the tropics. Where are all the critters they encountered on Guadalcanal? The movie makes you want to visit this tropical paradise – trust me, no veteran went back after the war because of fond memories of the climate or the flora and fauna. The director made a conscious decision to showcase the environment in a deceptive way – inexcusable! The soldiers suffered enormously because of physical discomforts (less so for philosophical reasons as emphasized by the movie).

    • I can see what you mean about The Thin Red Line here… I truly like it for other reasons and I still think it is a profound anti-war statement. We don’t see any “Rain on Cape Gloucester” episodes like in The Pacific but I don’t think it belittles the soldiers suffering or efforts. It is very arty, I don’t mind that.

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