Every film about war ends up being pro-war
January 10, 2020 9:06 AM   Subscribe

The 50 Greatest War Movies Ever Made [slVulture].

The title of this post is from a quote from Francois Truffaut to Gene Siskel: “I find that violence is very ambiguous in movies. For example, some films claim to be antiwar, but I don’t think I’ve really seen an antiwar film. Every film about war ends up being pro-war.” Also note this listicle's exclusions:
this list opts for a somewhat narrow definition of a war movie, focusing on films that deal with the experiences of soldiers during wartime. That means no films about the experience of returning from war (Coming Home, The Best Years of Our Lives, First Blood) or of civilian life during wartime (Mrs. Miniver, Forbidden Games, Hope and Glory) or of wartime stories whose action rests far away from the battlefield (Casablanca). It also leaves films primarily about the Holocaust out of consideration, as they seem substantively different from other sorts of war films. Also excluded are films that blur genres, like the military science fiction of Starship Troopers and Aliens (even if the latter does have a lot to say about the Vietnam War).
posted by Halloween Jack (67 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Whether a movie's effect is pro-war or anti-war depends on how audiences interpret it. If audiences are fundamentally pro-war and interpret even anti-war messages as endorsements, I think it's disingenuous to say the movies are pro-war. Say what you really mean: people like war, and showing them the horror of it won't change that.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:14 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I get that the piece wants to focus only on movies, but that seems almost designed to exclude "Generation Kill" and "Band of Brothers" -- both by HBO, I believe -- which were so strong.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:16 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, the last word on this subject was written in a comment on Metafilter almost exactly ten years ago.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:19 AM on January 10 [68 favorites]


No Kelly's Heroes? I think not. I mean, they got Three Kings on there! C'mon!
posted by valkane at 9:22 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


No MASH?
posted by Melismata at 9:30 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Whether a movie's effect is pro-war or anti-war depends on how audiences interpret it.

The idea that artist making the work has nothing to say, that each work is disconnected from context beyond the eye of the beholder, is an extremely strange, ugly argument.

(I miss Dee every time I reread one of her comments here. I hope wherever she is, she’s OK. Maybe even content or at peace, but I have a sense that might be too much to wish for.)
posted by mhoye at 9:33 AM on January 10 [19 favorites]


Here you go:
50. Thirty Seconds of Tokyo (1944)
49. Booby Traps ((1944)
48. War Horse (2011)
47. Allied (2016)
46. Courage Under Fire (1996)
45. Ovelord (1975)
44. Casualties of War (1989)
43.Sergeant York (1941)
42. Black Hawk Down (2001)
41. The Train (1964)
40. The Last of Mohicans (1992)
39. An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)
38. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
37. Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)
36. Three Kings (1999)
35. Stalag 17 (1953)
34. Ride with the Devil (1999)
33. Che (2008)
32. The Story of G.I. Joe (1945)
31. The Deer Hunter (1978)
30. They Were Expendable (1945)
29. From Here to Eternity (1953)
28. Paisan (1946)
27. Gallipoli (1981)
26. The Steel Helmet (1951)
25. Patton (1970)
24. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
23. Platoon (1986)
22. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
21. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
20. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
19. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
18. The Great Escape (1963)
17. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
16. The Chimes at Midnight (1965)
15. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
14. Das Boot (1981)
13. The Burmese Harp (1956)
12. Fires on the Plain (1959)
11. Dunkirk (2017)
10. The Hurt Locker (2008)
9. The Big Red One (1980)
8. Come and See (1985)
7. The Life and Death of Coonel Blimp (1943)
6. Apocalypse Now 1979)
5. Saving Prive Rya (1998)
4. Grand Illusion (1937)
3. The Thin Red Line (1998)
2. Paths of Glory (1957)
1. Ran (1985)
posted by Fizz at 9:34 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I once went through a phase where I watched a large number of war movies, and I've seen about half of these as a result. That phase ended when I saw All Quiet on the Western Front. Maybe it was just the time and place I saw it, but that movie blew me away like few others, and it was somehow the final word on war for me, at least as far as movies is concerned. It's still one of my top films.
posted by Alex404 at 9:40 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


No MASH?

I think wenestvedt has hit on an underrated point - Maybe the medium and economics of film necessarily prohibits the sort of pointed criticism that you can work into tv series’ periodically. Far as M*A*S*H is concerned Both should be on this list for different reasons.

I think about the line “War is war and hell is hell and of the two war is worse. There are no innocent bystanders in hell” a lot.
posted by mhoye at 9:54 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Is Dr. Strangelove a war movie? If so, that would be my number one.
posted by treepour at 9:57 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]


A few of these titles are wartime prison films, which might be classed in a separate sub-genre. To that list I might add 'Empire of The Sun' and the delirious 'King Rat'.
posted by ovvl at 10:02 AM on January 10


I knew the list was in trouble when I saw Sgt. York on it, but not including Battleground is a big miss.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Das Boot should be higher on that list, but OK.
posted by jquinby at 10:05 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Thank you SokaShotF. That comment you linked was worth repeating. And I'd never seen it. I hope Dee finds better as well.
posted by aleph at 10:07 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


The article cites Full Metal Jacket as a movie about the horrors of war, but when I saw it most recently, it seemed to be almost explicitly pro-war. Or rather, it's pro-soldier. The message of the movie is that war is a terrible paradox - you have to kill to survive, you have to save your friends to save yourself, the weak are sacrificed so the strong can succeed, etc.

But these are presented as unavoidable necessities. The whole episode of Private Pyle was that such a terrible thing as his hazing and destruction was necessary, because the training had to be brutal for the soldier to have the best chance of victory. A soldier has to embrace death and misery to survive and return home.

At the end of the movie, Joker faces the ultimate paradox: to be kind, he must kill. Specifically, he must kill a child. When he finally does so, he embraces the awful truth of war, and he is liberated from his misgivings - joyful, even. He's living in the moment and accepting the absurd, surrendering his prior disgust and sarcasm to the take whatever action is best, no matter how terrible. At the end of the movie, Joker is unironically happy and at peace in the midst of destruction.

It's a monstrous viewpoint, but FMJ is making the case that the world is monstrous and this is simple realism. Instead of considering the moral imperatives of society, it considers the moral imperative of an individual soldier. The whole exercise reminds me of the prisoner's dilemma or the tragedy of the commons (i.e. understandable individual choices leading to terrible overall outcomes), but I don't feel that the movie drew any connection between individual and collective action. If there's a weakness to its thesis, it is that.

Do I agree with the movie? I'm not sure. It's definitely interesting. But Full Metal Jacket definitely didn't strike me as an anti-war movie on my most recent viewing.
posted by Edgewise at 10:09 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I don't really want to binge-watch war movies, but there's a lot on here I feel like I should watch.

Ran as #1 is a bit of a surprise, tbh.

Others I wonder about - Johnny Got His Gun (though I haven't seen it in decades), Chickamauga (harsher than Occurence), the Branagh Henry V. Schindler's List?

Dee Xtrovert's comment...I don't know what to say.
posted by Caxton1476 at 10:11 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


it was somehow the final word on war for me, at least as far as movies is concerned

That’s how I felt after watching Paths of Glory. Nowadays, as much as I love seeing movies in the theater, I usually skip war films that are focused on battle scenes, even the acclaimed ones.

Not including Glory on this list is a big oversight...as much I would like to see it remade from the perspective of the soldiers and not the white CO, it’s still a major war film (especially in representing a war that even a strict moral code could see as a plus).
posted by sallybrown at 10:12 AM on January 10


Grave of the Fireflies is my favorite anti-war film.
posted by ShakeyJake at 10:19 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


The article cites Full Metal Jacket as a movie about the horrors of war, but when I saw it most recently, it seemed to be almost explicitly pro-war. Or rather, it's pro-soldier. The message of the movie is that war is a terrible paradox - you have to kill to survive, you have to save your friends to save yourself, the weak are sacrificed so the strong can succeed, etc.

I don't think Kubrick was concerned about whether war was good or bad but more interested in how trivially easy it is to turn supposedly civilized modern men* into amoral killing machines. It's running theme through most of his films.

Using "men" and not "people" here since Kubrick seemed to be focused on men specifically.
posted by octothorpe at 10:24 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Grave of the Fireflies is my favorite anti-war film.

I don't think I've ever cried harder at an ending. The sound of that little tin can (I can hear it in my head), still makes me choke up a little. A truly devastating film. But worth watching, just be prepared to bawl your damn eyes out.
posted by Fizz at 10:24 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Come and See is a movie that's tough to see even once and I've seen it twice. It's not pro-war.
posted by borges at 10:35 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


While there are certainly some important and, to some measure, good movies on the list, including a fair amount of Criterion-esque accepted classics from outside the US, war movies perhaps more than any other genre really need to go beyond Hollywood and the usual suspects to get a better perspective on what war movies can say since Hollywood's ideals and US values often make a bad match to wider world history and experience of war.

The best US war films generally aren't anti-war so much as either use war as a way to examine soldiers in battle and what that shows about humankind more generally or are those made about specific conflicts during times of war or around the specific experiences of those who served, not the mythic takes that audiences often are drawn to. The best war movies from outside the US are often considerably different, with some of the biggest movie producing countries having far more devastating experiences and loss than the US. A few of these made the list, but the list should be primarily of films from outside the US were the subject taken more seriously.

Leaving off movies like Wadja's taut and morally complex Kanal or Ashes and Diamonds from Poland, Jancsó's coolly distanced observational movies The Red and the White and The Round-Up from Hungary, Okamoto's bitterly comedic and extravagantly angry movies about WWII The Human Bullet and Fort Graveyard from Japan, Ciulei's Forest of the Hanged from Romania, Watkins' imposition of the past on the present in Culloden from the UK, de Feuntes tense film about choosing sides El Compadre Mendoza from Mexico, Solanas Hour of the Furnaces with movie making as revolutionary attack from Argentina, and on and on, Every national cinema makes movies about war because was defines the history of nations and each national history has perspectives of its own that often fall well outside Hollywood style mass market entertainment. Making a "best war movies" list without that in mind is a mostly empty gesture.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:38 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]


I remember seeing 31/50 of these movies, and I thought I'd seen most of the big-time war movies...I may have seen a few more, but I can't remember from the descriptions.

I think a lot of the non-Western Alliance movies could be better represented. I am glad Das Boot is there, and All Quiet on the Western Front...movies like Stalingrad (which probably appear further down the list) seem to be left out.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly could find its way onto the list, unless the point of the list is more about the actual fighting involved, rather than a story that happens in the midst of war/battles. Gone with the Wind could also fit into the list. At least as much as Gallipoli fits.

Ran is a great film, but I never really considered it to be a war movie for some reason. People seem to put movies like Braveheart on listicles like this, too, and that is a romance, IMO.
posted by Chuffy at 10:42 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


The article cites Full Metal Jacket as a movie about the horrors of war, but when I saw it most recently, it seemed to be almost explicitly pro-war.

I didn't get that at all, certainly not from the first hour which is its strongest part.

The message of the movie is that war is a terrible paradox - you have to kill to survive, you have to save your friends to save yourself, the weak are sacrificed so the strong can succeed, etc.

But these are presented as unavoidable necessities.


Perhaps unavoidable once war has been declared, but why was it declared? My read of history is that war can pretty much always be avoided. Problem is, the way to avoid it tends to involve decisions made many years before the real violence begins. Case in point, the Treaty of Versailles (Paris 1919) was so punitive toward Germany, it pretty much guaranteed they'd eventually rise again as a military force, the conditions for Nazism being fed by the poverty and despair that came from the treaty.

So when war finally comes, it's like bad weather. Nothing you can do really but hunker down, deal with the calamities as they hit.

Full Metal Jacket arrived around the same time as two other big deal war movies (both on the list). Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line. I remember a friend observing that the perfect war movie would have been a combination of the three.

1. Start like Full Metal Jacket, show the deliberate dehumanization process of basic training.

2. Move to the first twenty minutes or so Saving Private Ryan -- the sheer chaotic terror of combat, something that even basic training's dehumanization couldn't prepare you for.

3. Conclude like Thin Red Line -- the stuff that happens after the "successful" siege of the Japanese hilltop. Everybody's in profound shock, alien, post-human, caught in horror. The difference between terror and horror being that terror is the visceral experience of the chaos and savagery of combat whereas horror is the aftermath, what you're stuck with, haunted by, the things you saw heard felt smelled, the things you did. My dad saw combat in WW2. He never fully got over the horror in the sixty years he still had to live.

Come and See is a movie that's tough to see even once and I've seen it twice. It's not pro-war.

Yeah, you can make a war movie that doesn't end up being pro war, but who wants to see something like that?
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Come and See has been on my watchlist for five years (I'm watching all of Ebert's Great Movies) but I haven't been able to bring myself to see it yet.
posted by octothorpe at 10:52 AM on January 10


That Tarantino movie is too ridiculous to be on this list. There are at least a half-dozen others that deserve that space more than it does.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:06 AM on January 10 [10 favorites]


Though "Downfall" is not primarily about soldiers per se I think it has a lot to show/say about soldiers' experiences during wartime.
posted by mazola at 11:10 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Red Wall is a film that should be on this list.
posted by Fizz at 11:46 AM on January 10


I get that not everyone's going to have the time to sit down for multiple hours of existential autobiographical war drama, but imo it's absurd to omit The Human Condition, an exemplary anti-war movie trilogy featuring a pacifist protagonist who gets drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. (But I'm biased, as someone who was happy to space out the films over multiple days to give them my full attention after work.)
posted by rather be jorting at 11:47 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


I remember wandering into a friends house blazing on LSD. He had Patton on (13 inch b/w TV, yeah, a lifetime ago), which I had, up 'til that point, considered a pro war film ( I also didn't believe that a true anti-war film could exist). I could not look at the relatively bloodless scenes of tanks rolling across the north African desert, without simultaneously considering the bloody violent destruction they caused. That was pretty much the end of the war film for me.
posted by evilDoug at 11:52 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Ran's an interesting choice to include on this list, especially at the #1 spot, given the influence/sorta-adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, which I also wouldn't think of as a war story. In Kurosawa's film, the existential nihilism would generally support a staunch anti-war (or rather, pointlessness of war) pov, but the primary focus is on the fractured familial relationships between the father and his children, and how he's oblivious to the child who cares about him the most - war ends up being more of a backdrop for establishing the feudal setting, but it's fairly secondary or even tertiary compared to the film's depiction of the absurdity of ego and all that jazz.
posted by rather be jorting at 11:55 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I just got back from seeing 1917. It's entirely possible their list is out of date.
posted by Grangousier at 12:46 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Full Metal Jacket arrived around the same time as two other big deal war movies (both on the list). Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line.

Well, a decade before, but OK. FMJ was '87 and the other 2 were both '98. FMJ was closer to Platoon '86 than either of the other 2 movies...

Full Metal Jacket didn't spend its entirety in the jungle...quite a large part of the movie's war scenes were shot in cities, which is pretty different from just about every other movie about Vietnam.

I watched most of The Killing Fields the other day, and that was based in the city as well, where the fighting mostly took place elsewhere, and slowly arrived in the city.
posted by Chuffy at 1:30 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The Young Lions with Brando and Montgomery Clift got me into James Joyce as a life long passion. For that I give it a big thumbs up. A WWII movie based on an Irwin Shaw book.
posted by njohnson23 at 1:31 PM on January 10


The war reporter/photographer genre includes movies like Salvador and The Killing Fields. There are frequently characters in movies that represent this character...Full Metal Jacket
and We Were Soldiers come to mind....
posted by Chuffy at 1:35 PM on January 10


Kinda shocked not to see mention of "The Longest Day."
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:52 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


You can add Catch-22 and Lawrence of Arabia to the list of omissions; probably Slaughterhouse 5 as well, although some might not consider it a war movie.
posted by TedW at 2:14 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Many of the films mentioned on this list (and by commenters in the thread) have been discussed on the excellent Friendly Fire Podcast. I recently got into it and very much enjoyed working through their backlog. I heartily recommend it. It is genuinely funny and they also provide a decent amount of historical background to the films they watch.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:23 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


These are pretty Western.

I'm pretty uncomfortable with Full Metal Jacket being in there and the writer highlighting that one fucking racist line, too.
posted by anem0ne at 2:25 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Zulu?
Threads?
Tora! Tora! Tora!?
The Cruel Sea?
posted by Devonian at 5:26 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I still think The Thin Red Line is an actual anti-war movie if only because it’s mostly shots of American GIs getting torn apart and dying, and not in any glamorous or badass way.
posted by gucci mane at 5:40 PM on January 10


...this list opts for a somewhat narrow definition of a war movie, focusing on films that deal with the experiences of soldiers during wartime. That means no films about the experience of returning from war (Coming Home, The Best Years of Our Lives, First Blood) or of civilian life during wartime (Mrs. Miniver, Forbidden Games, Hope and Glory) or of wartime stories whose action rests far away from the battlefield (Casablanca).
That narrow criteria would exclude many of the movies people have suggested, no matter how good the movies are.

I was OK with that criteria but irritated that some of the movies on the list didn't fit it. For example "wartime stories whose action rests far away from the battlefield (Casablanca)" but the list includes Allied (2016) which not only is a spy movie but is starts out in freaking Casablanca.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:14 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Come and See. Blood, mud, and madness. Unrelenting, harrowing. Have never regretted watching it.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:31 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I think Days of Glory / Indigènes should have been on the list.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:40 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Die Brucke (The Bridge) 1959
posted by ovvl at 8:49 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Add:
Black Book (2006)
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
Henry V (1989)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:06 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


My personal experience is that there are three anti-war movies:
1) Gallipoli
2) Catch-22
3) Hair (though only in the final moments do we see the experience of a soldier stepping into a plane; a deeply moving moment of tragedy)
posted by j_curiouser at 9:16 PM on January 10


The Red Badge of Courage (1951); starring Audie Murphy. One of America’s most decorated soldiers in WWII, he enlisted in 1942 at the age of 17.
• A single image of France in World War I is enough: L’Enfer [Hell] (1921) by Georges Leroux; oil on canvas, 45 x 63 inches; detail (click to zoom).
Triumph of the Will, 1935, Leni Riefenstahl (full movie at Internet Archive). The world should have paid more attention to Nazi propaganda then.
• The present and future of cinéma vérité is real combat, shot through a glass darkly: Tongo Tongo Ambush Footage (October 2017), with associated Wikipedia article.
posted by cenoxo at 11:17 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Getting to know people who have experienced war did much to make me reluctant to see war films, and I don’t think I’ve seen a movie in that genre for a decade or there abouts, so I’m far from an expert, but I’m continually baffled that A Midnight Clear isn’t a bigger deal, at least a cult movie.
posted by Kattullus at 2:03 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I would also highly recommend Enemy at the Gates, to represent the Russian experience of WWII.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Das Boot should be higher on that list, but OK.

The Director's Cut? Or The Ultimate Director's Cut? The Final Director's Cut is good too. Maybe you prefer the Millenium Director's Cut.
posted by thelonius at 8:16 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


MASH, Branagh’s Henry V, Olivier’s Henry V.
posted by MattD at 8:38 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


It's important that you have the most recent stable version of Das Boot. I believe the most recent is Das Boot Director's Cut Pro.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:39 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


If you're going to include M*A*S*H, you probably ought to include its apparent inspiration, Battle Circus.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:43 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I couldn't figure out how to save the list it generated, but if you go here and set the genre filter to "war" and order by "highest rated" you will get a short but good and diverse list. Some overlap with the list in the FPP, and a few others that wouldn't meet Vulture's criteria for inclusion, but interesting to compare the two.
posted by TedW at 11:16 AM on January 11


but I’m continually baffled that A Midnight Clear isn’t a bigger deal, at least a cult movie

Came here to say exactly that.

And also Heartbreak Ridge is obviously number one.
posted by 99_ at 11:39 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Also, 49th Parallel (1941), Kapo (1960), and The Beast (1988). Does Band of Brothers (2001) not qualify?
posted by cenoxo at 1:29 PM on January 11


The Burmese Harp deserved to be higher.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:45 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Really think J’accuse (1919) should be on this list. Abel Gance cast actual WWI soldiers in the film — the climatic sequence is a “death march” where fallen soldiers rise from their graves to confront the living. They were played by actual soldiers on leave from the front lines before heading back into the meat grinder.

I just got back from seeing 1917. It's entirely possible their list is out of date.

I can’t think of any reason why 1917 should be on this list. It’s just a display of amazing camerawork in service of the most basic, well-worn men-at-war cliches I can imagine.
posted by Mothlight at 9:33 AM on January 12


This list needs Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Tarkoksky's first feature film. It's a beautifully shot, harrowing look at a 12-year-old Soviet boy who uses his small size for reconnaissance missions along the brutal German lines during WWII, after everyone he loves has been taken from him. Stunning little war film.
posted by mediareport at 11:05 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


42. Black Hawk Down (2001)

Object strongly to this one, mainly for the almost completely dehumanizing way it treats the Somali neighborhood, eliminating completely all detail about the horrors it had experienced from US and UN forces in the days and weeks before the Black Hawk crash episode - details which are present in both Mark Bowden's original newspaper series and (to a slightly lesser extent) the book, and which Ridley Scott apparently decided just got in the way of his thrililng war story. A major rocket attack on a clan gathering to discuss peace, in a building that included women and children, was quite fresh in the minds of the folks in that area when those U.S. soldiers went down, for just one example. I would call Black Hawk Down the perfect example of a war movie that glorifies the crap out of war in an inhumane way, and it has no place on a list like this.
posted by mediareport at 11:39 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


That Tarantino movie is too ridiculous to be on this list.

Oh god yes. The inclusion of Inglourious Basterds, a disgustingly gleeful revenge/torture fantasy with nothing interesting to say about violence, is just....gross.
posted by mediareport at 1:25 PM on January 12


on the other hand, it's probably my favorite Tarantino offering, certainly since Jackie Brown. More about cinema and culture and the problem of History than war itself. One thing you can't accuse it of is being an anti-war movie that "... ends up being pro-war".

from the intro to the list:

Is it true that movies glamorize whatever they touch, no matter how horrific? And if a war movie isn’t to sound a warning against war, what purpose does it serve?

I suspect, Mr. Tarantino would answer yes to the first question, and well, I'm not going to answer the second one for him. But I will pull up this old comment from a previous thread:

I'll go out on a limb and say Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino's best film ... and he knows it, the final line being, "I think this just might be my masterpiece." Because it manages to not just be about WW2 and having fun with reinventing the history of WW2 but it's also about cinema and propaganda and real life versus invented life, with the climactic scene in the theater being one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. (spoiler alert) German war hero and the Jewish girl are both lying dead in projection room having killed each other while out in the theater, they are both still alive on the screen, which is erupting in flames -- the last thing anyone in the theater will ever see, because they're all about to die. Meta on meta on meta.
posted by philip-random at 2:19 PM on January 12


That Tarantino movie is too ridiculous to be on this list.


In defense of Inglorious Basterds, what Tarantino did in that movie was, like his Kill Bill films, an homage to other movies, directors and actors. The whole movie is comprised of references to other films in either style or substance. There is a ton of detail and symbolism in the movie that are easy to miss.
posted by Chuffy at 12:52 PM on January 13


Perhaps unavoidable once war has been declared, but why was it declared?

It's a good question, but I don't see Full Metal Jacket grappling with this at all. To me, it was concerned with individual choices and not societal ones. I could be totally wrong, of course.
posted by Edgewise at 2:41 PM on January 13


I last saw it a long time ago, so don't even remember really how it all plays out beyond the broad strokes ... and the final shot of a bunch of American soldiers marching into the night singing the Mickey Mouse theme.

But that first half. Just thinking about it hurts. Only a sadist or a masochist could experience that as overtly pro-war. Which isn't to say there aren't a lot of sadists and masochists out there.
posted by philip-random at 3:33 PM on January 13


Full Metal Jacket didn't spend its entirety in the jungle...quite a large part of the movie's war scenes were shot in cities, which is pretty different from just about every other movie about Vietnam.

The main combat scenes in Full Metal Jacket are during the Battle of Huế after the Tet Offensive of January–February 1968. The North Vietnamese army and the Việt Cộng "struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital [Saigon]." The Battle of Huế lasted from January 31 through March 2, 1968, and featured urban combat that was more typical of World War II than the Vietnam War.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:47 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


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