Saturday, May 23, 2009

June Movie Nominations - War

The new poll is up and the theme is "war". The films selected for June all have a war theme but are all very different and are from different time periods. We could not select the very best of war films because so many of them are epic. We decided to go with relatively shorter films that are also rated very high. Here they are, from Stanley Kubrick to Charlie Chaplin.

Our oldest film nominated. Filmed just 10 years after the end of World War I. This is an English language film (made in America) adapted from a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War 1 by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals. As the boys witness death and mutilation all around them, any preconceptions about "the enemy" and the "rights and wrongs" of the conflict disappear, leaving them angry and bewildered. This is highlighted in the scene where Paul mortally wounds a French soldier and then weeps bitterly as he fights to save his life while trapped in a shell crater with the body. The film is not about heroism but about drudgery and futility and the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality. (

A two-segment story that follows young men from the start of recruit training in the Marine Corps to the lethal cauldron known as Vietnam. The first segment follows Joker, Pyle and others as they progress through the hell of USMC boot-camp at the hands of the colorful, foul-mouthed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second begins in Vietnam, near Hue, at the time of the Tet Offensive. Joker, along with Animal Mother, Rafterman and others, face threats such as ambush, booby traps, and Viet Cong snipers as they move through the city. (

The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo, a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination. (

November, 1951. The 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is shaken up by the arrival of Captains "Hawkeye" Pierce and "Duke" Forrest...crack surgeons but lousy soldiers. Joined by renowned chest-cutter "Trapper" John McIntyre, the surgeons set about dealing with the daily carnage of the war by raising hell. From getting rid of the idiotic Major Burns to helping the camp dentist commit "suicide", there's no lengths the Swampmen won't go to to distract themselves from the horrors of war. (

In late March 1944 a rebellious US Army Major is "volunteered" to train twelve convicted military criminals for a suicide mission - to parachute to a heavily-guarded Nazi general staff officers' retreat to try and assassinate German officers on leave. To get his unorthodox assignment done the Major must convince Army brass to grant pardons to the men, then try to mold the twelve recidivists into a functioning unit, a task made more daunting by the doubts of a by-the-book General and by the suicidal nature of the mission. (

During the last days of the First World War, a clumsy soldier saves the life of devoted military pilot Schultz. Unfortunately, their flight from the advancing enemy ends in a severe crash with the clumsy soldier losing his memories. After quite some years in the hospital, the amnesia patient gets released and reopens his old barber shop in the Jewish ghetto. But times have changed in the country of Tomania: Dictator Adenoid Hynkel, who accidentally looks very similar to the barber, has laid his merciless grip on the country, and the Jewish people are discriminated against. One day, the barber gets in trouble and is brought before a commanding officer, who turns out to be his old comrade Schultz. So, the ghetto enjoys protection from then on. Meanwhile, Dictator Hynkel develops big plans, he wants to become Dictator of the whole world and needs a scapegoat for the public. Soon, Schultz is being arrested for being too Jewish-friendly, and all Jews except those who managed to flee are transported into Concentration Camps. Hynkel is planning to march into Osterlich to show off against Napaloni, Dictator of Bacteria, who already has deployed his troops along the other border of the small country. Meanwhile, Schultz and the barber manage to escape, guised in military uniforms. As luck would have it, Schultz and the barber are picked up by Tomanian forces and the barber is mixed up with Hynkel himself. The small barber now gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to speak to the people of Osterlich and all of Tomania, who listen eagerly on the radio. (