In honor of Memorial Day weekend in the States, we offer up our choices for the 10 Greatest War Movies of All Time. As you can see, not even war's impact is singular. Sometimes, the reach can be very long indeed.
In some ways, it's a natural subject for cinema. It has scope. It packs inherent drama. It has all the swagger, the allure, and the blood-spattered spectacle that makes the visual medium so viable. Yet the war film -- an indirect derivation of the thriller, action effort, and (sometimes) critical commentary -- is often foiled by the very elements it has to cater to. Offer up too much realism and the audience looks away in dismay. Play up the arrogance or the attraction and your motives are questioned. Human conflict is a tricky concept to completely nail down. Some want nothing but the immoral aftermath, never once addressing the equally depraved aspects that brought us to this point. Many crave a helping of clear-cut heroics and villainy, the better to secure their hegemonic/sovereign/patriotic stance.
So coming up with a list of the Greatest War Movies of All Time is tough, especially in light of the divergent approaches taken. Want nothing more than flag waving and enemy annihilation? Go for the '50s combat conceit, a time when John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Burt Lancaster would steer the stars and stripes course. Or maybe your prefer the '70s, with its stark cynicism and attempt to grapple with the bigger issues involved. From something as sobering as Schindler's List to the over the top casting that carries The Longest Day, one's decision has to balance the message with the media. In that regard -- and in recognition of the 24 May release of Platoon on Blu-ray -- SE&L offers up its list of the 10 Best looks at human conflict through the ages. Most are decided on the field of battle. But as you can see, not even war's impact is singular. Sometime, the reach can be very long indeed.