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Old 12-11-2009, 12:15 AM   #16
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I tend to agree with you on that last bit, but it's interesting when the opposite happens. I mean, didn't The Deer Hunter come out relatively close to the Vietnam war? Or had at least a couple of years passed?

But yeah, I guess with a never-ending war, you're going to get a lot of movies coming out about the subject matter while it's still going on.
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:04 AM   #17
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Stories about soldiers, sure, but he said:

brutal and ugly side of WAR... So then I ask you, what else could he have meant? How would you show a war and not have brutality and ugliness?
You would have it.

I wasn't the one suggesting that the only way to deviate from the brutal and ugly side was to then tell a "nice" and "pretty" story. Because that's the leap that was taken. I appreciate what martina said, anything that sterilizes it is offensive. I don't think nathan was trying to sterilize it, just making the point.

As for "WAR", how do you have war without soldiers?
Or civilian victims? And is there a chance that these stories are about things that aren't all inherently vile? Is this not truly a "side" of war? It can be lots of different things.

If it's truly unsterilized "war", it's all-encompassing? Okay, I can buy that.
If brutality and ugliness are facets of war, then in the context of telling "war stories" you can focus on other facets and tell that story, unsterilized. Fair enough?
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:07 AM   #18
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I mean, didn't The Deer Hunter come out relatively close to the Vietnam war? Or had at least a couple of years passed?
The Deerhunter came out in 1978. The fall of Saigon happened in 1975. I'd call that relatively close.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:11 PM   #19
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I tend to agree with you on that last bit, but it's interesting when the opposite happens. I mean, didn't The Deer Hunter come out relatively close to the Vietnam war? Or had at least a couple of years passed?


i think Deer Hunter was 1979? or 1978? it won best picture, and i know that BP in '76 was Rocky and '77 it was Annie Hall. so that's my guess.

i'm sure Google knows.

ah, so now we know it's 1978. but for most Americans, their heavy involvement in the war was 1966-1971ish, though the war dragged on for years. the highest body counts were in the late 1960s, i believe. so it could even be said that it was 10 years later.

Platoon was '86.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:10 PM   #20
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The Hurt Locker is an amazing film, but I'm sure it can be seen as also "anti-war." I don't really see why people are looking for commendable values in a war picture. You can certainly look for commendable soldiers which I'm sure all of the films listed by nathan have, including The Hurt Locker.
While SPR was a great story of a group of soldiers, it did not tell the story of war, aside from the first 20 minutes or so which I'd consider to be anti-war than anything. The Hurt Locker is almost the same, choosing to focus on a group of soldiers rather than on the war as a whole.

You also have to realize that we are living in different eras. Coming back from WW2 as a soldier is in no way comparable to coming back from Vietnam or Iraq. People volunteered in the thousands for WW2 because it was war of necessity. Those men that came back didn't have a place to tell their story, mostly because after the war no one wanted to hear about it. No one wanted to be reminded. There is a reason why it took a good 30 years before Holocaust movies became popular to the viewing audience. Has anyone here ever seen or heard of The Pawnbroker? I'm sure it did horribly at the box office. No one wanted to hear about it in 1964. People lived under the threat of nuclear war.

The world we live in now is based on immediate feedback. Interviews of people while they are in the trenches, VA hospitals filled to the brim with soldiers receiving aid. I've been there. I've seen what it's like.
If you want a pro-Afghan war film, then head for films like United 93 which reminds us why we should be there, or even the documentary 9/11.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:37 PM   #21
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Huh. So much parsing of "brutal and ugly". Of course war is brutal and ugly. SPR however seems to focus on the fact that, despite the inherent brutality of war, there are still reasons for which to fight. Other films, like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, etc., land on the brutality and ugliness of war as an end unto itself, which becomes an inherent reason not to fight. Again, it's contextualization that's key.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:45 PM   #22
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well said films are less commentaries about all war -- though they are, since all war has the air of the senseless about it -- and more commentaries on said specific war. Republicans have fretted for years that Vietnam has made us less willing to bomb people when it suits us.

certainly the key phrase in all of SPR is at the very end
 
when Tom Hanks is about to die and he tells Matt Damon to "earn this."


i always understood the film as a sort of "thank you" to grandpa (or, in Spielberg's case, to dad ... always with the dad worship), and what it did well was to debunk many of the depictions of WW2 as "the good war." certainly, it had noble aims as, yes, your grandparents really did defeat fascism, but what had happened in the aftermath of that war was a whitewashing of the horrors of what has to be seen as *the* tragic era of the past 100, or even 1,000 years. because so much good was accomplished, the abject horror of what people went through had been glossed over. much has been made of the senselessness of trench warfare in WW1, and the utter pointlessness of Vietnam, but WW2 had a glow to it in popular memory. not so much any more.

now, it could be argued that all SPR does is actually glorify and justify and ultimately glamorize intestines spilling out on a beach in northern France, and that all the film did was to up our tolerance for violence on film so long as it tells you that it's "realistic." so that's something else to consider.

and the graveyard bookends are bullshit. stupid, stupid additions to the film which seem like last minute additions out of concern that an audience would run out of the theater repulsed by the violence.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:56 PM   #23
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i always understood the film as a sort of "thank you" to grandpa (or, in Spielberg's case, to dad ... always with the dad worship)
Sho nuff.

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what it did well was to debunk many of the depictions of WW2 as "the good war."
This is probably going to be very much in the eye of the beholder. For the vets I saw it with, the film explained why it was a good war -- the brutality and darkness of the military action only served to highlight the nobility of what they were trying to do.

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and the graveyard bookends are bullshit. stupid, stupid additions to the film which seem like last minute additions out of concern that an audience would run out of the theater repulsed by the violence.
They're part of Spielberg's contextualization -- they don't appear in the early Rodat drafts. The movie opens with a fifteen second shot of Old Glory, for pity's sake. So he's certainly framing his story in the context of patriotism, national duty, etc. It may not have worked for everyone, but given its success -- $479M worldwide -- it certainly worked for a lot of people...

The problem with Ms. McCain's article is that I think she's advocating for a SPR-style film about Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are fundamentally different however. SPR works because I'm pretty sure most people would agree that overthrowing Hitler's regime was a noble mission, despite the cost (and as SPR effectively reminds us, the cost was great). The aims in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't nearly as black and white however, and as a result it's difficult to depict soldiers as heroes if you're conflicted or ambivalent about what they're trying to accomplish.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:59 PM   #24
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You also have to realize that we are living in different eras. Coming back from WW2 as a soldier is in no way comparable to coming back from Vietnam or Iraq. People volunteered in the thousands for WW2 because it was war of necessity.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of those that served in World War II were drafted, while the majority that served in Vietnam were volunteers!
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:41 PM   #25
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This is probably going to be very much in the eye of the beholder. For the vets I saw it with, the film explained why it was a good war -- the brutality and darkness of the military action only served to highlight the nobility of what they were trying to do.

i guess i meant more that it served to remove the shine of that war -- it had been so venerated by Hollywood that the grit of combat had been lost. the literal turning of humans into hamburger by modern weaponry happened in WW2 as well as any other war, though that had never really been depicted in as much detail before. we'd had grit and gore with Vietnam, but to my memory, that was the first time that realism had been injected into a major WW2 picture. to me, that kind of violence, particularly as depicted in the first 20 minutes, has to be an anti-war message, but i can understand how it serves the overall picture of sacrifice and heroism.

my problems with the film have to do with the arc of Upham's character.



Quote:
They're part of Spielberg's contextualization -- they don't appear in the early Rodat drafts. The movie opens with a fifteen second shot of Old Glory, for pity's sake. So he's certainly framing his story in the context of patriotism, national duty, etc. It may not have worked for everyone, but given its success -- $479M worldwide -- it certainly worked for a lot of people...

it probably did make the film more digestible for a mass audience. it's what's so frustrating about Spielberg.



Quote:
The problem with Ms. McCain's article is that I think she's advocating for a SPR-style film about Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are fundamentally different however. SPR works because I'm pretty sure most people would agree that overthrowing Hitler's regime was a noble mission, despite the cost (and as SPR effectively reminds us, the cost was great). The aims in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't nearly as black and white however, and as a result it's difficult to depict soldiers as heroes if you're conflicted or ambivalent about what they're trying to accomplish.


absolutely. it seems that the overall purpose of the film was to inject a WW2 story with what we now let ourselves know about violence and what mechanized warfare does to human flesh. WW2 hadn't had that. and it works in SPR because the aims are clear, though one could argue that the "mission" in the film -- the actual saving of private ryan -- is presented as ambiguous, though it's really not left up to question at the end with the family in the cemetery (obviously, someone has earned it).

thinking about it now, i get even more pissed off at those bookends. ugh.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:14 PM   #26
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How about Band of Brothers? I know it's a mini-series, but I think it's one of the best WWII films I've seen and really one of the best war films.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:16 PM   #27
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The Deerhunter came out in 1978. The fall of Saigon happened in 1975. I'd call that relatively close.
My understanding is that official American presence and the main body of troops was out of Vietnam by 1972-73. After that the South Vietnamese were mostly on their own until the fall of Saigon.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:26 PM   #28
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How about Band of Brothers? I know it's a mini-series, but I think it's one of the best WWII films I've seen and really one of the best war films.
Absolutely agree. I far prefer Band of Brothers to Saving Private Ryan, although it's not a fair comparison since Band of Brothers has much more time to flesh out characters and give more nuance to the story.
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:45 AM   #29
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Contrary to popular belief, the majority of those that served in World War II were drafted, while the majority that served in Vietnam were volunteers!
I wasn't only thinking about the armed forces although they were a large part of "volunteering." I meant that people were more willing to volunteer time and resources, specifically women who took over the jobs men left behind. I can't imagine many Vietnam-era women felt the same about supporting the country during war time.

I'd also like to say that I just came back from watching Brothers and really enjoyed it. The rest of my group hated it and called it an "epic fail" (a phrase as soothing as scratching a chalkboard). I can see where some people like McCain would view it as an "anti-soldier" war, but the film never delves into the war. It focuses in large part of each of the characters. Most on the Captain as he deals with severe post traumatic stress disorder.
I don't get what these people want. We've moved on from the "hate the war, not the soldier" era. I suspect that a very tiny portion of the anti-war crowd is anti-soldiers.
If anything this film promotes awareness of PTSD. I had to work at a VA hospital for a few months, taking a dingy subway to get there. At every stop there were giant posters of Iraqi soldiers advocating therapy to discuss PTSD at the VA with fellow soldiers. Why is this taboo? It needs to be talked about. Hate the war, love the soldier? This movie does just that. I don't think anyone can take a look at the Captain at the end of the film and blame anything on him. None of it is his fault.
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:15 AM   #30
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my problems with the film have to do with the arc of Upham's character.
Ditto.

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it probably did make the film more digestible for a mass audience. it's what's so frustrating about Spielberg.
I believe it was Spielberg himself who said, this may have been on his TCM special, that the bookends were what most Vets liked the most about the film.

I believe the reasoning (I sure wish I could cite this with confidence) was that it showed that life carried on after the war and these men grieved more so for the men who didn't come back than celebrated in their own heroism.

But whatever, I am not one to defend the schmaltz of Spielberg.
I think the scene where Neeson breaks down "I could have saved more" in Schindler's List was completely out of place in tone and one of those token 'heart-string' moments in a film where every fucking second being displayed was a heart string moment. Never the one for emotional subtlety.
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