Glorious War
December 29, 2004 10:44 PM   Subscribe

I hate movies about/with war, or more precisely, battles that depict how horrible and bloodsoaked and gory wars are. Hate hate hate them. Watch them. Hate them.
So, having watched the extended cut of Return of the King for about the infinityinth time today, I still find myself with goosebumps and tears streaming down my face over the incredibly bittersweet glory depicted during the battle on Pelennor Fields.

Are there any other movies that depict war as glorrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeuhhhhssssssssss (/John Colicos) that I should see?
posted by WolfDaddy to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think you'd like Branagh's (and Shakespeare's) Henry V, which is incongruently rousing and crushing.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:53 PM on December 29, 2004


You want sanitized movies about war glory? Maybe old Alamo movies, or John Wayne's Green Berets?

Or Gibson's The Patriot, or Independence Day (ID4), or Return of the Jedi.
posted by NortonDC at 10:53 PM on December 29, 2004




The Enemy Below is a pretty good war movie.
posted by coelecanth at 10:57 PM on December 29, 2004


The Rambo sequels! Sucky, with lots of remorseless ultraviolence!
posted by NortonDC at 11:18 PM on December 29, 2004


That question reaches Truman Capote levels of attitude.

But, I recommend Patton, and A Bridge too Far were pretty rah-rah. There were no guys chasing their arms if I remember correctly.
posted by geoff. at 11:23 PM on December 29, 2004


Wolf Daddy, If you can find Lawrence Olivier's Henry V, made as a morale booster during WWII, you may enjoy the whirr of the English arrows toward the over-armored French. Seeing the premier actor is worth the effort.
posted by Cranberry at 11:42 PM on December 29, 2004


Starship Troopers.
posted by bobo123 at 11:43 PM on December 29, 2004


John Boorman's Excalibur (the original, not the expurgated version).

Peter Weir's Gallipoli.
posted by SPrintF at 11:47 PM on December 29, 2004


The Last Starfighter.
posted by airguitar at 12:27 AM on December 30, 2004


Gallipoli will make you cry. On the other hand, the lead actors are gloriously, boyishly beautiful. But yeah, if you want the senseless waste of war and death or glory charges, that's the movie to see.
posted by jokeefe at 12:41 AM on December 30, 2004


Platoon and the Band of Brothers series.
posted by tracicle at 1:21 AM on December 30, 2004


[Perhaps a bit populist here...] To me, not much can top the LOTR films, but I thought Gladiator's opening battle was pretty grueling. Without knowing the background of the conflict it was hard for me to imagine the motivation to do what those men did. Luc Besson's "The Messenger" (Joan of Arc) with Milla Jovovich sticks in my head too -- from the brutal fighting to the cruel demise of Joan.

And I don't know if bobo123 was being serious, but I actually did think some of Starship Troopers ground battle scenes tensed up my stomach the way today's war footage does. You can debate the patriotism/fascism in the movie, but what I mainly tuned into was the cameraderie and relationships of the troopers and how those were affected by the carnage of war. It made me think more than I expected from a big dumb sci-fi action flick. (I suspect that might be more *me* than the movie... dunno...)
posted by Tubes at 1:30 AM on December 30, 2004


Ran.

Good holy sweet jesus, I think Kurosawa is the best tragic-warrior director I've ever - ever - seen. And Ran is Kurosawa directing his vision of King Lear, so it's... Well, I'm not sure it can be described better than "This is Kurosawa's vision of King Lear."

That said. Crying at the battle in RotK? Goodness. I can understand getting the sniffles watching Finding Neverland or maybe happy-sniffles at the end of Amelie, but RotK... Huh. To each his own, I suppose.

Tubes - yes, that was you. The book was alright, the movie was just terrible. Not even the then-illicit booze dulled the pain of watching that.
posted by kavasa at 2:32 AM on December 30, 2004


Glory, natch.
posted by Zonker at 2:48 AM on December 30, 2004


Not sure if these fit in your category of "glorious," but no list of war movies is complete without Saving Private Ryan and Paths of Glory. Neither of these films really accentuate the bloodiness of battle. The emphasis is on how fruitless war is.
posted by crunchland at 4:23 AM on December 30, 2004


Not sure if these fit in your category of "glorious," but no list of war movies is complete without Saving Private Ryan and Paths of Glory. Neither of these films really accentuate the bloodiness of battle. The emphasis is on how fruitless war is.

I dunno, it seems to me like Saving Private Ryan is almost the definition of the type of movie he wants to avoid:

"I hate movies about/with war, or more precisely, battles that depict how horrible and bloodsoaked and gory wars are. Hate hate hate them. Watch them. Hate them."

Private Ryan may not focus on the gore, but it definitely focuses on how horrible and bloodsoaked war is.
posted by Bugbread at 5:19 AM on December 30, 2004


Hamburger Hill meets all of your requirements quite nicely. I can't recall the battles in Full Metal Jacket right now - they may be bloodsoaked and gory as well. But definitely Hamburger Hill - where do you think the name of the hill came from?
posted by iconomy at 5:55 AM on December 30, 2004


Gods and Generals depicts war as not really horrible, but long and tedious with a low special effects budget and too many soliloquies.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:59 AM on December 30, 2004


what kavasa said, but do not stop at Kurosawa. Japanese film has many offerings of Samurai movies that would fit the bill. Midnight Eye is a good place to start with Japanese film.
posted by jasonspaceman at 6:05 AM on December 30, 2004


How 'bout Mel Gibson's The Patriot, or perhaps Braveheart.
posted by icontemplate at 6:49 AM on December 30, 2004


So, a little clarification, perhaps, WolfDaddy. Are you looking for movies portraying war as primarily "horrible and bloodsoaked and gory," (more like anti-war war movies)?

Or are you looking for war as "incredibly bittersweet glory," where the good guys prevail against all odds and defeat the forces of evil?

RotK would certainly seem to fall in the latter category. But I'd say most of the suggestions here are in the former.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:53 AM on December 30, 2004


I find the subject intensely interesting. Every WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm vet I have ever met, to a man, has said that there is nothing glorious about battle. It's just something you get through because you have to. In cinema and in print we fictionalize war's glory to make it more palatable to us. To meet the WolfDaddy's requirements, it might be best to go with fictitious wars (Starship troopers, Independence Day, etc.), rather than dramatizations of real ones.

/agenda

Having said all this, Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai are pretty sweet.
posted by psmealey at 7:00 AM on December 30, 2004


The pacing and composition of the battle scenes in the LOTR films (as well as many other bits and pieces of the movies, including Sauron's costume) are strongly, strongly influenced by Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky. The movie, of course, is an out-and-out Stalinist propaganda film (though some would argue that it's really "subversive," in that circuitous way that academics use to say that pretty much everything is subversive), so its primary purpose is to depict war against overwhelming odds as glorious.
posted by Prospero at 7:24 AM on December 30, 2004


Response by poster: I asked the question mainly because of how powerful my reaction to the battle sequences in RotK continues to be, after multiple viewing. The sequences are, for lack of a better word, glorious. The cause is just, hope is dim, and people are sacrificing their lives for good, for light, for friendship, and because there's nothing left to do to protest the coming darkness but to fight (which reminds me ... precisely how is Babylon 5 not a wholesale rip-off of LotR?), and maybe to die. That makes the battle, to my eyes, glorious, movingly so. It's also a complete fantasy, so I'm allowed to indulge my emotions in a way that I perhaps wouldn't in a film based more closely on reality.

This thread's helped me to figure out that I dislike many movies that feature combat because it seems, to my own senses, dishonorable. I realize now I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of dealing death at a distance.

I'm a huge Kurosawa fan, this might also help to explain why I've always enjoyed his movies. So, thanks everyone.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:25 AM on December 30, 2004


Response by poster: Hmmm, upon re-reading that, I realize that I could be interpreted as saying I find suicide bombings, or the 9/11 attacks, honorable. Perhaps it would be better to say I find combat, or portrayals thereof, distasteful if you don't in some way know your enemy. And even that's not precisely it. Sticky wicket here.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:37 AM on December 30, 2004


WolfDaddy, Gettysburg. I can't believe it wasn't mentioned already. Watch it.
posted by Apoch at 7:48 AM on December 30, 2004


Gettysburg does such a great job, and with such sensitivity and insight, the story from both sides of the battle. I second that.

Along similar lines, I recommend Das Boot. It is more a meditation on camaraderie than glory, but it tells a story that so rarely has been told.
posted by psmealey at 7:51 AM on December 30, 2004


Maybe the SciFi channel Dune miniseries.
posted by NortonDC at 7:55 AM on December 30, 2004


Excalibur. When Arthur rides the first time, and O Fortuna begins playing as the horses gallop around a bend into the frame, you'll feel most awesome.
posted by orange clock at 8:02 AM on December 30, 2004


Wolfdaddy, I misunderstood your question completely. Please don't watch either Hamburger Hill or Full Metal Jacket, they're not what you want at all.
posted by iconomy at 8:12 AM on December 30, 2004


I second Gallipoli.
posted by plinth at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2004


I think you'd like Branagh's (and Shakespeare's) Henry V, which is incongruently rousing and crushing.

If you can find it, Welles' Chimes at Midnight has a great take on the same battle (as well as being an amazing film).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:42 AM on December 30, 2004


Wolfdaddy:

If I'm reading you right, (and there is absolutely no snarkiness or insult intended here), you're looking for underdog pictures where one side is absolutely right, the other side is very much wrong, and the battle to fight the overwhelming wrong is hopeless and yet ultimately fruitful. Does that seem accurate?
posted by Bugbread at 10:14 AM on December 30, 2004


I pretty much agree with everything you said, Wolfdaddy, but I think war movies that do that are more than a little to blame for how nonchalantly we treat war, and how we have this romanticized view of who our soldiers are and what they do.

Sorry for the sermon. That's the smallest discrete unit of ranting I'm capable of, I swear.

What I actually wanted to suggest was that if you want an against-all-odds, band of brothers, triumphant victory of the human spirit movie, but without the ethical problems, try watching a sports movie. There are almost as many of them out there, and they are basically just metaphors for war anyway.

The Bad News Bears, Rudy, Miracle,The Longest Yard, Hoosiers, etc. would, I think, fulfill the same emotional niche.

Dunno, just throwing it out there, ya know.
posted by Hildago at 10:38 AM on December 30, 2004


Ha. Watch Hero - not a war movie per se (wellll, it does have one person armies), but more than enough "for the greater good". Great propoganda. Pretty too.
posted by Mossy at 1:08 PM on December 30, 2004


If Mossy means the "Hero" with Jet-Li, I heartily agree.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:31 PM on December 30, 2004


As much as I hate Tom Cruise, The Last Samurai was pretty damned good.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:15 PM on December 30, 2004


What about Kill Bill? The Bride got totally f'd over and fought what felt like a never ending army. Admittedly, it's a revenge movie, but it kinda fits your description.
posted by glyphlet at 2:43 PM on December 30, 2004


Speaking as a bit of a war movie fan, the first to come to mind would be Kelly's Heroes and The Battle of Britain, with The Battle of Britain being the more gripping and glorious...
posted by pompomtom at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2004


The Lighthorsemen.
posted by arha at 3:33 PM on December 30, 2004


IMO Kill Bill isn't quite right...doesn't have those slow-mo battle shots of glorious warriors running forward, swords in hand against all odds, eyes ablaze, mouths open in silent cries...all set to heartwrenching orchestral music which peaks on a climactic minor chord just as that first young handsome lad is stabbed through the throat and slowly falls to his knees... *sniff* Gets my heart in my throat everytime. I hear ya, WolfDaddy.

I second Gallipoli. The Matrix Trilogy (despite a few sucky moments) has some of that virtuous sacrifice type stuff in there, especially the battle scenes in the last one.
posted by stray at 9:14 PM on December 30, 2004


I was gonna mention The Last Samurai as well.

kavasa - I had the same feeling about Starship Troopers the first time I watched it. The husband convinced me to give it another try and I thoroughly enjoyed it the second time. It took the second viewing to realize that the movie was deliberately cheesy/campy.
posted by deborah at 9:16 PM on December 30, 2004


which reminds me ... precisely how is Babylon 5 not a wholesale rip-off of LotR?

I'm a fan of LOTR and B5, but I'm not seeing it here. There are some similarities to be sure, but you're going to find similarities in any two grand epics you pick. (cf. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell) And yes, in at least one place there's a deliberate allusion by JMS to LOTR. (Khazad-dum => Z'ha'dum)

But I really don't see enough similarity between the two to make the claim that B5 is a "wholesale rip-off" of LOTR. To start with, what do you propose fills the role of the One Ring in B5? Because I don't see anything that corresponds.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:24 AM on December 31, 2004


Response by poster: DA, the Rangers are ... Rangers. He also plagiarizes lines verbatim from the trilogy (now that I've re-read it). The one that comes to mind is G'Kar's "expect me when you see me," before taking off to investigate the rumors of darkness far away from home. Which is exactly what Gandalf tells Frodo before taking off to investigate the rumors of darkness far away from home.

There's many more parallels (though no ring-analogue, I admit, but the Shadows wouldn't wear jewelry would they? And what about that big ol' glowing EYE they have? And isn't Morden the Mouth?), but it wasn't until I re-read the books and realized he's quoting dialogue word-for-word that I came to think that JMS is a bit more indebted to Lord of the Rings than he's willing to acknowledge. [/tangent]

Thanks everyone again for the suggestions. Wish I had posted this last week, before the holidays ... but my movie watching list for 2005 is off to a good start.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:15 AM on December 31, 2004


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