Wk4M2 War and Cinema

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War has preoccupied many Hollywood filmmakers, for this module we will be screening:

Sands of Iwo Jima, Alan Dwan, 1949

Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick, 1987

Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino, 2009

Today’s discussion is brought to you by group 6: David Martin, Renee Schuyten, & Shanese Doll

 

44 thoughts on “Wk4M2 War and Cinema

    1. Nick Neal

      Inglorious Bastards doesn’t seem to have a real main character. The film is from the perspective of all the members in the mission. Thus exemplifying what Belton meant about war movies exalting the collective.

    2. Parrish Colbert

      I think the fact that the fighters represent the nation effect the classical narrative construction because as Nick Neal said instead of having to deal with one character you are forced to look at the entire group as a collective.

  1. Renee Schuyten

    If in war there is a suspension of morality, how do you see that in Full Metal Jacket vs. Sands of Iwo Jima or Inglorious Basterds? Was morality itself different in each war, or was it more of a political/propaganda statement by the filmmakers against (or for?!) those wars?

    1. Christophe Freeman

      There was definitely a suspension of morality in Inglorious Basterds because of World War 2 history. We all know how cruel the Nazis were and this film alters the war’s history. For example Adolf Hitler is killed by some soldiers at the cinema. That didn’t happen in real history. The group “Basterds” are seen as heroes in this film yet they act just as cruel as the Nazis did during the Holocaust. The audience suspends their belief of right and wrong because we want to see the Nazis lose because we know what they have done.

      1. Chris O'Malley

        I agree that the morality of Inglorious Basterds is skewed and practically absurd. The film depicts the Nazis as pure evil and everyone else as righteous. The film is never concerned with the reality of violence but instead glorifies it.

        1. Chris O'Malley

          Sands of Iwo Jima and Full Metal Jacket have very different senses of morality. Sands of Iwo Jima depicts the war effort as much more honorable than Full Metal Jacket. Although the individual directors may have been trying to make political statements, I believe that the morality of the general public changed greatly between the two films. Warfare and violence were no longer seen as honorable and justified after the Vietnam War.

      2. Alex Wilson

        I agree completely with Christophe. Honestly I never considered what he said before I just read it. As a viewer knowing what the Nazis did, although I realized how gruesome some parts of the movie were, I was okay with it because they were the bad guys. Thinking about it in this manner brings a whole side to the movie that a lot of people don’t realize or see.

    1. Shenese Doll

      I am not sure if it’s just me, but Inglorious Bastards, seemed to have some comedy in it, as graphic as the violence was… but then again, it may just be that it is Quentin Tarantino’s style.. His movies are usually very gory/graphic and the characters are a bit comical..

      1. Alex Wilson

        I don’t think it’s just you who sees that. Granted the comedy in the movie is more of a dark comedy considering the situations in which it is used (especially right before a gruesome killing) it still makes you laugh or at least lightens the mood of the scene in the same way a comedy does.

  2. Shenese Doll

    The reading talks about masculine and feminine aspects of a soldier and the change that happens in them once they return home from war, what are some films that portray soldiers struggling with toughness vs vulnerability once they are back from the front?

    1. Levi Brown

      The Best Years of our Lives and The Godfather, although Godfather only uses that idea as backstory for Pacino’s character. Both HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” dive into this subject in the later episodes in which characters return from the war unable to adjust to society. And though it’s not a film, the novel “The Things they Carried” has sections in which the narrator talks with veterans who struggle to forget the events that took place in Vietnam.

      1. David Martin

        I think the film “The Hurt Locker” really touches on the aspect of the return home for many of our current soldiers returning from the middle east. I think within the next ten years we will see many more films dealing with the problem of PTSD as our military vets continue to show signs of this disorder today. Another film that came out recently, “The Master” was a film about a WW2 veteran who returned to real life and literally couldn’t function. So although that film takes place 60 years ago, it still touched on a subject that’s starting to get light in todays society.

        1. Shenese Doll

          I am not sure if it’s just me, but Inglorious Bastards, seemed to have some comedy in it, as graphic as the violence was… but then again, it may just be that it is Quentin Tarantino’s style.. His movies are usually very gory/graphic and the characters are a bit comical..

          1. Parrish Colbert

            Yeah the comedy in Inglorious Bastards was definitely trademark Tarantino who really flipped it around. Also I think The Hurt Locker is a great example of what war does to the soldiers during and post war.

        2. Shenese Doll

          Also, The Brothers with Jake Gyllenhall and Tobey Maguire does a great job I think of portraying the return home.. Tobey Maguire’s character becomes two different men before and after, and also his return changes his family.. of course one reason is because the family thinks that hs

          1. Shenese Doll

            Also, The Brothers with Jake Gyllenhall and Tobey Maguire does a great job I think of portraying the return home.. Tobey Maguire’s character becomes two different men before and after, and also his return changes his family.. of course one reason is because the family thinks that he is dead at first so his return home is a shock and relief. I think the film portrays all point of views of everyone affected by the war as well.

            1. Alex Wilson

              This is the first movie that popped into my head as well. The movie is more focused on how the brother (not in the army) and the wife adjust after they believe the soldier is dead, when he comes back he is obviously not the same person and (granted he comes back to a completely different world) he more or less goes insane by the end of the movie.

    2. Nick Neal

      In Inglorious Bastards, we’re revealed first hand to the brutality of the German Army when they kill a jewish family. Because of this we more inclined to see the brutal violence carried out against the Germans by the bastards to be justified as kind of an eye for an eye. We are however tempted to feel like the bastard’s methods such as scalping and beating are particularly cruel and immoral, but then we feel somewhat guilty for this feeling because we don’t want to seem sympathetic to Nazis. So our moral intuitions are thrown out of wack because our beleifs about being humane conflicts with our beliefs about being just.

    3. Shelby Brown

      The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron! Of course, its a bit of a romantic film but Efron’s character Logan battled against falling in love and not trying focus on his past. He was able to show his masculinity while working after he lift the Marines but was also side tracked by this woman he believed was Good Luck.

      1. Kendrick Branch

        Jarhead(2005), was a film about the vulnerability of soldiers in the Gulf War. Jake Gyllenhall’s character displays the awkward disposition of a young man trained to kill other young men (he cries once he misses the opportunity). He deals with built up testosterone and adrenaline in desert heat while worrying about his girlfriend finding someone else back home.

    4. Steven Colonero

      I think The Deer Hunter with Robert De Niro is a fantastic example of the struggle to come back to the homeland after war. In this case it was Vietnam and the film portrays multiple individuals and there struggles with coming. But I think what makes this film unique is the fact that it also shows the horrible effects that it has on the family unit which is something that many films dont portray. Another great example of this is Born on the Fourth of July which also happens to be a true story about a solider who supports war but after returning from Vietnam he becomes an activist against war. It really shows the internal struggle of the character as well as the physical toll (he is paralyzed during the war).

  3. Alexandra Freda

    How do war films break the laws of classical narrative construction? Do you find evidence of this in the films we screened?

    Well the book discusses how the war film places its characters and protagonists into extreme situations, either/or absolutist mentalities. The good guys or main characters break rules and codes of conduct. Whereas traditional Hollywood films focus on the individual whose goals drive the story, the war film does not focus on the individuals needs and goals but the group collective.

    If in war there is a suspension of morality, how do you see that in Full Metal Jacket vs. Sands of Iwo Jima or Inglorious Basterds? Was morality itself different in each war, or was it more of a political/propaganda statement by the filmmakers against (or for?!) those wars?

    In Full Metal Jacket one example would be the female sniper towards the very end of the film who is mortally wounded and then allowed a mercy kill by Animal Mother, performed by Joker. Thomas abandons his comrades in Sands of Iwo Jima to enjoy a cup of coffee- thus putting his individual needs ahead of the groups needs, resulting in disaster. Certainly reinforcing the group wins mentality. The Basterds in Inglorious Basterds perform heinous brutal acts on Nazi’s- in an over the top gore fest ala Tarantino, all in the name of destroying what they consider the bad guys, but the acts of the good guys are supposed to justify the means. Both Full Metal Jacket and Inglorious Basterds contain a lot of satirical content- most evaluations of Full Metal Jacket agree that it is as much a criticism of patriarchy, and masculinity along with themes of brainwashing.

    What instances of genre crossovers did you notice, and in which films?

    Certainly both Full Metal Jacket and Inglorious Basterds cross over into comedy or have comedic themes or scenes, though it may be certainly considered a black comedy.

  4. Evan Halleck

    How do war films break the laws of classical narrative construction? Do you find evidence of this in the films we screened?

    There are many ways the war movies break the law. First off a lot of war movies are told out of order or out of sequence for that matter. Which right away breaks the standard format of classical narrative construction. Another is the protagonist in these kind of movies breaks rules, sometimes makes poor decisions, and in certain movies are almost a anti hero.
    Well right away in the film’s that we screened Inglorious breaks the rules because they kill Hitler in it. The film takes a real life scenario and makes it a comedy at some parts and completely goes against history. Inglorious was made for pure entertainment. For someone to watch enjoy and then talk about it. Full Metal Jacket was made almost to show the public the deep dark sides of joining the army.

    1. Christophe Freeman

      I agree that war films tend to be told in a non linear fashion to keep the audience intrigued. Nobody wants to see a straightforward war film because the climax would be the only exciting part of the film. For example, In Saving Private Ryan the audience knows in the beginning somebody survives in the group but we have to watch the film to find out who that person is.

      War films have to break away from the classical narrative because the action of the war tends to be the most cinematic parts of these films. Most of the audience has never been involved in war and these films give insight into what gun battles look like and how people die in extravagant ways.

      1. Levi Brown

        I like what you said about the non-linearity to war films. One that comes to mind is Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. Like much of Malick’s work, his existential techniques allow the film to jump from character to character, even through different times, and still tell a story about the collective of soldiers fighting out in the Pacific. I like to believe that the film is edited for emotion, rather than story.

  5. Nicholas Mertens

    If in war there is a suspension of morality, how do you see that in Full Metal Jacket vs. Sands of Iwo Jima or Inglorious Basterds? Was morality itself different in each war, or was it more of a political/propaganda statement by the filmmakers against (or for?!) those wars?

    In most war films their is a deep break from morality and characters make a hard decision to either kill a person or let them live. This is clear in Full Metal Jacket in the end, when Joker is faced with the task of killing the woman sniper. The argument that happens is something that is typical of a war movie and similar moral dilemmas happen in movies like Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, and Apocalypse Now. A stark difference though in Inglorious Bastards is that there is no hesitation when the Bastard’s take the life of a Nazis. Today, through films and video games Nazis have become the perfect bad guys, and their is no regrets for any loss of life when it comes to the Germans in Inglorious Bastards. The one time where, a little bit of humanity is shown and a German soldier is humanized in the scene in the bar, is quickly washed over. That’s not to say that there are not moral dilemmas in Inglorious Bastards but as far as taking a life, it is not an issue.

  6. Steven Colonero

    I find it interesting that some have pointed out that they found Full Metal Jacket to be comical and I am wondering if we find that so because of all the cultural references we now see relating back to it such as in Family Guy and if it was meant to be funny. Personally I found it to be rather disturbing and exploring the emotional toll that boot camp can have on one’s psyche especially since I have had friends who are in the military. However, Kubrick does this in many of his films having these over the top characters that some find amusing like Jack Torrence in the Shinning. As for the classical narrative I think The Hurt Locker breaks this formula the most simply because there are so many different styles being displayed. I personally find the sequence that is shown in first person to be one of the most unique experiences in a war film, and really displays what it would be like in that life or death situation.

    1. Renee Schuyten

      The Hurt Locker was very interesting in how it draws the audience in with the fear and uncertainty of what’s going on around you. It was a new setting for a war film, rather than trenches and lines in the sand, you’re in the middle of a city and you’re not really sure who your enemies are. They point not guns but cell phones at you.

      1. Steven Colonero

        I thought her latest film, Zero Dark Thirty also used the same technique however not quite as much considering much of the film is an exploration at where Osama Binladin is hiding but I thought it was an unique way to tell the story.

  7. Allison Hudson

    War films break classical narrative construction by suspending morality and making the group more important than the individual. For example, Full Metal Jacket is set during the Vietnam War which was wildly unpopular to Americans. The story follows Joker through boot camp to the actual war in Vietnam. While he is the main character, we see the contribution of the group in each place. When Gomer Pyle is attacked by the other men in boot camp, we empathize with him. When he ultimately chooses to get revenge and kills his drill sergeant, it was hard to feel like he was in the wrong. The way the men were treated in boot camp makes it hard to feel any sympathy toward the drill sergeant. This breaks traditional narrative because right and wrong are not always clear. It happens again when Joker chooses to shoot the girl at the end of the film. We want her to die because she is in pain but we also don’t want him to become a killer. There are moments like these in most if not all war films.

  8. Angelo Lima

    It seems to be a big difference between all the three videos shown that each place is in a different part of the war, but at least all the soldiers still have a similarity that deals with emotion and shock on the battlefield which plays a lot more in the acting phase for the actors mostly .

  9. Angelo Lima

    Inglorious Basterds has to be the most ingenious and interesting of the three movies because of the sarcasm that they poke at through the eyes of World War II and on the contrary of how World War II is talked about today. I think Quentin Tarantino tries his best to mix up history to make his own history into a story, but in sort of a bad way depending on how someone views the matter, as an idea or a threat.

    1. Parrish Colbert

      I agree Inglorious Bastards does stand out the most and to me raised the bar the highest for totally desensitizing the audience in sarcasm and comedy in a time of extreme violence. I think that was him adding his 2cents on all the propaganda of war.

        1. Steven Colonero

          Ya he does do this in all of his movies, but I think he also uses the violence as a statement in many of his movies sometimes its in references to other films but I think in inglorious bastards case he uses it to show the violence that was really going on at that given time in history.

  10. Clark Faust

    I think one of the reasons that war films usually break the conventions of films is because war is often unconventional. It is unpredictable, chaotic, and often messy. War films are usually trying to portray the emotions attached to war. Full Metal Jacket is the best example of these films for showing the emotions of war. Starting from the opening scene of the drafted boys getting their heads shaved. That symbolizes the army stripping away their identities and making them all the same. Another great example of a war film that captures the “feelings of war” is The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998). The film is a cinematic poem of the sights, sounds, smells, and fears of war. It breaks many of the conventions of cinema just as the other films have and I believe truly displays how war feels.

  11. Kendrick Branch

    Like Alexandra said, these films focus on the goal of a group (or groups) of people. The narrative construction of Inglorious Bastards focuses the film around events. These events in themselves are extreme episodes leading to an even more extreme final event. If one was to focus on the character’s individual goals or consciousness, the skewed sense of morality would distract from the story, which gets a lot of its credibly from being based on real events. The film seems to be about the violence behind war, both psychic and physical.

  12. Evan Halleck

    This is a little off topic but I want to see everyones opinion on this. I recently watched apocalypse now redux (the extreme extended directors cut) with my roommate. The main scene that was added in to the film was the very lengthy scene that involves the main characters of Apocalypse now running in to a french camp and talking with them. If you have not seen either you might not be able to participate in this discussion. This scene although very well done does not contribute to the main storyline of the movie really in any way. I think especially in movies like this every scene or event that happens in a movie should really contribute ,push ,or add to the main story to drive the film. My roommate disagreed and thought the film was necessary because it was a apart of history and French soldiers were in vietnam and it should be adressed in the film. We got in a little argument about this and I want to see your opinion. Do you think in war movies that every event should add to the plot or do you think the exceptions of scenes being added because of historical events that are not relevant to the plot but happened in real life should be added in the film?

  13. Savannah Steiner

    How do war films break the laws of classical narrative construction? Do you find evidence of this in the films we screened?

    War films such as “Full Metal Jacket” and “Inglorious Basterds” have an uneven flow as there is no real character to follow throughout the films, just a perspective that is surrounded by characters. There’s a wider scope, with every character acting as a piece of an ever-changing puzzle. The acts pass with no real structure, just a group of characters moving towards their goals and the drama formed along the way.

    In Full Metal Jacket, the first half takes place at a boot camp with new recruits being trained. One recruit is pushed so hard that he ultimately snaps and shoots an officer. The second half features the group out on the front lines dealing with the horrors of war. Both halves dealt with horrors created due to war, both at home and overseas.

    In Inglorious Basterds, the film is told in typical Tarantino style as it jumps around several characters pursuing their own goals centered around the war.

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