War Movie Watchalong – Choose the Movie

It’s been a while since the last watchalong, 8 months to be precise, and I thought it was about time to do it again. Like the last time I will give you the opportunity to choose from a list of movies.

The “rules” are simple. If you’d like to join and have a blog, please post on the same day, if you don’t have a blog, just watch the movie and join the discussion.

The poll will decide which one we will watch.

Here are the choices:

The Bomber – Ballada O Bombere (2011 Russia)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971 US)

The Hurt Locker (2008 US)

I will announce the poll results on Sunday 9 September 2012.

The discussion will take place on Sunday 23 September 2012

The N-Word or The Dam Busters Dilemma

A while back I reviewed one of my favourite war movies The Dam Busters, a movie based on a true story.

There has been a lot of talk about a remake. For a while it was said it would be out soon, now it doesn’t seem so sure anymore. While remakes are always topics of debate, this one is a remake which triggered quite a few, also very heated discussions.

Those of you who have seen the movie, or know the story, are aware that Wing Commander Guy Gibson had a black dog and the dog was called “nigger”. That was the dog’s name in real life as well as in the original movie The Dam Busters. It’s a fact. While it certainly sheds a weird light on the Wing Commander’s choice for a name and is not in good taste, it still is a fact. The dog was important for the Commander and it has an important role in the movie as well. This means, it will be in the remake and it will have a name.

Political correctness seems to dictate that the dog cannot or shouldn’t have his original name in a new movie. It is said it would be offensive.

For me this is an oddity. If there ever was another remake of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I don’t think they would just not use the N***** word, or would they?

I would never use it in my personal life but to change the name of a historical figure, and if it is “only” a dog, seems very wrong to me.

Nobody calls their sons Adolf anymore. If there was a remake of an old movie, set before WWII, in which a man was called Adolf, would they have to change that name?

Such practices are, in my opinion, dangerous. The past has dark patches. We should not forget them.

What do you think? Should the dog keep his real name or should he be renamed? Should so-called political correctness win over historical accuracy? Portraying something in a historically accurate way can always also give a possibility to discuss things.

Is There Too Much Emphasis on Film Music in War Movies?

Comments on two of my recent reviews (The Front Line and Special Forces) made me question the use of music in war movies. I remember that I was once not so keen on music in films and that I had liked some, like The Army of Shadows, especially because they hardly use any music at all. When it comes to more action-driven movies, I think that the music is to a large extent the reason why I like them so much. I couldn’t imagine Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, King Arthur, The Last of the Mohicans and many more without music.

On the other hand I’ve seen a few movies who would have been good with other or no music. In those cases the choice was so bad, it really damaged the film. One of those examples is The Killing Fields.

I think one of the problems is whether the score has been composed especially for the film or whether they just added known songs and pieces of music. This can work as well, as we can see in some of the Vietnam movies, but often it doesn’t.

Should a movie not be excellent without music? How important is it? Is there a overuse of music, particularly in US productions?

What do you think?

Let’s find out but share your opinion as well and name some examples in which the music was used especially well or others in which it damaged the movie.

Poll Results – Is Black Hawk Down Too Combat Intense?

More than a year ago I asked the question on this blog whether  Black Hawk Down was too combat intense. Someone had made this comment and I was astonished because I thought the intensity of the combat in Black Hawk Down was one of the reasons why it was such an extremely powerful movie. I checked the poll a few times in the beginning and the forgot about it. The other day I had a look and the result is interesting.

26 people have answered the question. 50% think that it isn’t too combat intense, 13% however thought, that yes, indeed it was too intense. Another 20% thought that it should be even more intense and the remaining people didn’t care.

I’m still surprised anyone would think it is too combat intense but maybe we would have to know what they mean. Black Hawk Down depicts the Battle of Mogadishu, an army operation that went seriously wrong. The result of the operation shook everyone who knew about it or who was involved. The special units deployed got under heavy fire and faced an incredible aggression. They weren’t only fighting other soldiers but a huge, armed mob. Depicting something like this as realistically as possible requires intensity.

I would say, that from the point of view of  a soldier who was under heavy fire, I guess, it’s not intense as nothing can equal the real thing. But maybe for someone purely watching it, it could be too intense, meaning, “too intense to watch”.

In any case, I will check back on the poll from time to time and keep you posted.

A little question for you. Do you think there is any other war movie which depicts such intense combat scenes? I think some of the more recent South Korean war movies I watched do but can’t think of an older one as intense as this.

You can find the original post with the poll here. Please vote, if you haven’t done so already.

“Is Platoon a War Movie?”

“Is Platoon a war movie?”

No, I’m not being funny. I have been asked exactly this question a while ago by someone I told about this blog. It was a man in his late forties. He wasn’t really sure what I meant when I was saying I wrote a blog about war movies. It’s a genre he isn’t familiar with and he finds it highly dubious. He asked me this question to fully understand what it was that I was reviewing and writing about. Guess if he had been a bit younger the question would have been either “Is Saving Private Ryan a war movie?” or “Is The Hurt Locker a war movie?”.

What I’m getting at here is that there is such a ting as THE war movie. A movie that is known far beyond the borders of the genre and by an audience that will normally not watch war movies. I don’t think it is a coincidence that he chose Platoon. Platoon and Apocalypse Now used to be the exemplary movies whenever people were talking about war movies, whether they were aficionados of the genre or they belonged to those who despise the genre.   

It is hard for someone like me who has seen a lot of war movies to try to find out which is the movie that comes to mind first upon hearing the expression “war movie”. Now that I’m writing this post it’s pretty hard to think of any other war movie than Platoon. Still, for some weird reasons, the war movies which seem to be the most representative of the genre for me are Vietnam movies and that’s why, I guess, I would think of Platoon. This has nothing to do with “favourite movie”. A favourite movie could be far less typical.

How about you, which is the movie you think of first, which is the one that embodies the genre for you?