The movies which try to recount TRUE tales will always be better than the fevered imaginings of the hacks and ne-er do wells of Hollyweird fiction writers.
I get the logic of this 'if you haven't experienced it, you've no idea' perspective. But some of the better war movies *have* been by producers / directors who have not seen the elephant. How do you rationalize those works in light of your exclusivity clause?
While veterans' experiences may trump non-veterans' lack of experience, a movie is not a personal experience. It's a story where-hopefully-a realistic or 'authentic' experience is conveyed to the audience. A combat veteran may be a poor director, actor or producer and that will dilute or negate the authenticity of his underlying message to a lay audience.
For sure I did not mean to be so exclusive in my ramblings. PLATOON may be a good story, and mostly factual, yet the director/writer does not entertain the feelings I have regarding combat by a long shot.
My real concern is with movies which "glorify" the subject in a way which might give folks the wrong idea of what it entails.
I feel the same way about that "wind swept grass" I described from Twelve O-clock High, as I do about the beginning of Pickett's Charge in GETTYSBURG...I know I am about to see a total waste of good humanity albeit with the legitimacy of why they were there that day.
If someone asks for the best WW2 flick...or even any WAR flick...I wonder if they were referring to the historical accuracy...the acting...or much worse, the "special effects."
For me, some of the best "war flicks" never saw a shot fired at all.I think Kenneth Branagh did that film "Conspiracy"?...That (to me) is one of the best...but with no "action", most folks would never even consider it a "war film", per se.
My views are somewhat tainted of course, My Grandfather was in WW1, in France, my Dad was in WW2 and Korea...and my initial experiences were between Bien Hoa and the Cambodian border.
I was an army brat and was raised to recognize the venue.
Cordite and cosmoline is in the blood, lol
Of course I cannot speak for all vets, and there are many with more "time" served, so please understand I know I was speaking for myself.It was my opinion, and was of a topic shared with other vets of common silk over a period of years.
I totally get what you're saying and didn't mean to overinterpret what you said. But with hundreds of thousands of living combat veterans-each with their own '100 yards of Hell', one vet's really-o truly-o combat experiences may be complete nonsense to another. Sometimes in the same war, theater and action. I heard all manner of 'that was authentic' discussion around "Platoon" when it was first rolled out-from those that had been there and done that. Same with (the first part of) "Saving Private Ryan". Others thought the movies divorced from their own experiences.
For a lay person, how to distinguish? How to get at an 'unassailable' truth for war movies? My opinion: there probably isn't one. All of them are shades of gray that may or may not touch what one person saw or felt throughout their completely immersive experiences.
This opinion is not well accepted by veterans, but here goes: I don't think that you *must* be a veteran to understand what makes a good 'war movie'. Many (most?) on this forum are extremely well-read on the subject. I think their objective opinions-the culmination of their studies, interviews and discussions over many years-can suffice to give a window into the experience that may or may not been experienced by veterans that are less informed or less well-read. Again, not a popular opinion amongst veterans (note I'm not saying combat veterans, since they make up a small percentage of veterans today).
For example, a good friend of mine in middle school and high school went into the navy for 6 years after high school. He served on an LHA in Southeast Asia deployment for many of those years (mid-1980s). He worked in the laundry and clerical duty onboard the ship. His knowledge of battles fought, experiences of combatants and personal histories was narrow. He wasn't particularly interested in biographies or autobiographies of soldiers or sailors at war. His taste in 'war movies' was shallow and his likes mostly involved salacious 'blood and gore' type flicks of the day. Was he wrong in liking what he did? Was his tag as a veteran any more or less meaningful than a well-read and interested civilian? Would I have been wrong in calling him out and telling him what (others wrote) combat was really like? Would my opinion be closer to the truth than his?
Experiences can be indelible. No doubt. But I think they can be supplemented or sometimes supplanted by well-intentioned study of the subject matter.
On another note: I agree with your perspective on "Twelve-o Clock High" and "Conspiracy". Both riveting. Although I found Brannaugh's (and Firth's and Coyle's) soft English accents out of place and Tucci's American accent to be *really* out of place. I was disappointed that German / Austrian / Swiss actors could not be found to provide the nuanced realism that the German language (with English subtitles) may have provided.
A well thought out post CB. I think the world of football provides a good analogy. Do only the worlds best footballers become the best managers. Real life shows us that that is not necessarily so and that many of the best managers prove one doesn't need actual first hand World Cup or Champions League experience to understand what its all about. [Rhetorical question] Is it possible to study the game and learn how to master it at the highest level without having been a witness to it?
One point I personally would disagree with though is with regard to Conspiracy. I've seen the earlier German version (with subtitles) and the BBC/HBO version. I have to say that the latter is a superior product and that (for me) the English/American voices do not detract from the film one bit. In fact I would argue that they actually convey the horror of that meeting better. Whether meaning to or not, the 'soft' English accents of many of the cast hammer home the reality of that meeting and those that were present. Something like three quarters of those at the meeting were university educated men with degrees (mostly lawyers). Many of the fifteen men at that meeting were middle-class, pen pushing bureaucrats. I found the abhorrent nature of the cold, detached conversation in which these educated men calmly discussed genocide on an industrial scale to be actually magnified by the clarity of the speech; no unnecessary diversion via subtitles.
Whilst there is no problem with German actors and subtitles (Downfall, Battle of Britain, Conspiracy etc) and usually I would agree that this adds to a film's realism, there was no such issue with Conspiracy for the reasons mentioned.
And yes M10bob, I agree, Conspiracy is most definitely one of the best.
< Message edited by warspite1 -- 9/12/2018 5:50:17 AM >
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