Toth Database - Cinema

The Cinema of War



The war film is a film genre that is in many ways the theme of war. Generally fall into this classification movies that reconstruct sea battles, air or ground, military campaigns, covert operations and other related subjects.Gender can also tell the war without showing the battles, as in the case of military training and civilian life during the war. 

The story may be fictional or based on historical, biographical and reconstructions as well as mixing both aspects (such as telling stories of fiction taking place against the backdrop of famous wars).

The narrative might have the prospect of military commanders, soldiers, prisoners of war, civilians. Many war movies may also include in the plot love stories. The war movie was successfully completed by the public especially after World War II in the years ' 40 and ' 50 when American propaganda churned out films where they celebrated heroic battles fought by the US and the victorious and its allies in Europe against the Nazis and against the "Japs" in the Pacific. After an interval in which the production of war films it is rare, with the end of the cold war the cinema of war was repeated with Steven Spielberg's film saving private Ryan, set in the year of the Normandy landings, that is later that year the thin red line by Terrence Malick about the battle of Guadalcanal. Those you can define war films focus on the most important wars of the 20th century: two world wars and those of Korea and Viet Nam. In these films he often has the aim of describing the historical events that really happened but which cannot be considered historical properly but rather a history as it is the spectacular element prevails.


In the context of war movie you can distinguish those who exalt with epic tones the heroism of the combatants from those anti-militarists. The first line is characterized by a strong contrast between those who fight to defend with courage and rashness values of humanity and justice, and the enemy, treacherous and cruel, and its strongly negative aspects should be destroyed without mercy.


Within this group are then distinguished wartime propaganda films (like white Squadron or the siege of the Alcazar, both by Augusto Genina, the man of the cross by Roberto Rossellini; Green Berets John Wayne), from those who, while enhancing the military values into filmic narrative insights which, while not questioning the inescapable necessity of war highlights the consequences of pain and suffering involving even the valiant fighters (the big parade of King Vidor, first line of Robert Aldrich, the young lions by Edward Dmytryk, The Great War by Mario Monicelli, that last bridge by Richard Attenborough, Samuel Fuller's the big red one).

The fascist regime in Italy had well understood the importance of cinema for the formation of public opinion and in 1923 he created the Union Educational Film (light) for the production of documentaries and newsreels at war content which supports the production of political propaganda film intended to show Italian war machine efficiency as the path of Heroes of Corrado D'Errico, bronze Sentinels of Romulus Marcellini and Under the Southern Cross by Guido Brignone. 

During World War II, modeled on the American film Institute sends its Light combat operators battle scenarios to produce propaganda documentaries. In the years ' 50 war Italian cinema is produced regularly (Francesco De Robertis, Duilio Coletti), while more recently the Mediterranean film (1990) by Gabriele Salvatores outside all patterns of war movie: is the story of a group of Italian soldiers landed in 1941 in a Greek island and were isolated for three years away from battles and deaths, a kind of happy holiday from the horrors of war; or El Alamein- The Line of Fire by Enzo Monteleone.


The War film is a "super-conventional film ', a label that allows the memory filmgoer to cross the first and second world wars, following the intervention in Korea and Viet Nam.


Inside are developed themes, styles and periods are very different from one film to another. The first world war is the Hearts of the World (the world's Hearts, 1918, David Wark Griffith): melodramatic and propaganda, it is a film whose stylistic system influence the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ( The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, 1921), directed by Rex Ingram. The Western front again (All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930) directed by Lewis Milestone tells a war epic and brutal anti-: classic film pacifist, introduces greater expressive freedom in war movies. World War II wartime Hollywood perspective outline: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) setting up the OWI (Office of War Information), to oversee the productions.


Is a documentary series "militants"-Why We Fight (so we fight) (1942-1945) by Frank Capra-which fosters a spirit interventionist and nationalist and relies on the help of prominent directors such as John Ford and John Huston. The dirty dozen by Robert Aldrich and Patton by Franklin j. Schaffner) are ideally linked to other war movie recently out- the thin red line by Terrence Malick and saving private Ryan by Steven Spielberg. 

Another notable war film about World War II is Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, which tells of the battle from the Japanese point of view. On the same theme, but from the American perspective, Eastwood had previously filmed Flags of Our Fathers

Do not forget the enduring success of the film genre of Viet-movies, films such as Taxi Driverthe HunterApocalypse NowFull Metal Jacket and Platoon

A classic movie militarist content is to consider the Western front again (All Quiet on the Western Front) is a 1930 comedy film directed by Lewis Milestone, which won the Academy Award for best picture and best director.


A film that was shown in a cultural environment completely hostile to the anti-war message of the opera which was proclaimed in a Europe where already spread fascist ideologies.

Its release in German cinemas attracted the Nazi reaction disdainful, who sought to block its vision, getting to throw rats in the audience during the premiere in Berlin.


On the same theme the contemporary film, 27 April 1933 from Nazi censorship prohibited Westfront 1918 by Georg Wilhelm Pabst about the last months of life and death before the end of the first world war German infantry on the front four French. A common theme, referring to the American civil war, sweetened and with quite different artistic outcomes, closer to the culture and mentality of Hollywood film was treated by the film, which sparked controversy, not the law of the Lord with western the 1956 film directed by William Wyler, winner of the Palme d'Or for best film at the 10th Cannes Film Festival. The film tells of the clash in a family of Quaker pioneers among non-violent intransigence of the mother, the father's common sense faithful to moral pacifist of the law of the Lord and the young son who despite his religious beliefs feels right to fight for the defense of the fatherland northerner and his own family by Raiders southerners. Of much more artistic and cultural production in the same year 1956 film the Burmese harp directed by Kon Ichikawa, where he tells of Mizushima, a Japanese soldier who accepts the mission to surrender in July 1945, in war now ended, a group of his fellow fanatics who had taken refuge in a cave, they decided to keep fighting. The soldier is treated like a coward and a traitor when he tries to explain to the Commander that, the deadline imposed by the allies, the cave will be bombed. 

The ultimatum expires, many die under artillery fire. Mizushima is injured, a Buddhist priest collects and treats his wounds gave him a lesson in humanity. Mizushima decides not to be reunited with fellow soldiers and becoming bonzo, to give Honorable burial to the bodies of the dead compatriots. A similar fate to Autant Lara had instead paths of glory (Paths of Glory) militarist 1957 American film directed by Stanley Kubrick won the Silver Ribbon for Best Director foreign "1959 who only in 1975 was shown in France. To ongoing controversy was the release of the film for King and country (King and Country) of 1964 directed by Joseph Losey, taken from John Wilson, Hamp stage play premiered in competition at the 29th Venice Film Festival, where Tom Courtenay won the COPPA Volpi for best actor. 

The film is an indictment against militarism represented by senior military ranks who sacrifice the life of a man for example the troops before an attack.


The controversy continued in the following film the 1970s antiwar film directed by Francesco Rosi men against and, more recently, with full Metal Jacket (1987) by Kubrick, Stalingrad (1993) by German director Joseph Vilsmaier and thin red line (1998), by Terrence Malick.