America and Modern War Films
The subject of war has been explored by people through books, theater, and in our modern age movies. Most notable of early works is probably "The Iliad" which is about the Trojan War. Achilles, the soldier is mostly thought of as the hero of the story because of how famous he was at being a good soldier. Our most notable modern day book that was made into a movie is "American Sniper" which is about the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle. The movie is controversial as most war movies are with different people forming different opinions. Clint Eastwood who directed the movie stated, "I was not a big fan of going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan." He also stated that the film is anti-war. The movie grossed 517 million worldwide becoming the highest grossing war movie ever.
"I think it's nice for veterans, because it shows what they go through, and that life- and the wives and families of veterans. It has a great indication of the stresses they are under. And, I think it all adds up to an anti-war (message).— Clint Eastwood
Preceding Clint Eastwood making the movie "American Sniper", Oliver Stone who was a veteran of Vietnam made some controversial war movies himself. It was in April of 1967 that Stone joined the United States Army and requested that he serve in combat duty. During the time frame of September 9, 1967 to April of 1968 he served in 2nd Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. He was twice wounded in action. After this, he got transferred to First Calvary Division where he participated in long range patrols before he got transferred a second time to drive for a motorized infantry unit. His active duty ended in November of 1968. He went on to make a trilogy of war movies about Vietnam. His movies were always seen as being highly controversial.
"Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that.— Oliver Stone
These films by Eastwood and Oliver Stone are controversial because some think that they glamorize war. However, both directors have said that they are "anti-war" films or films that show the struggles of soldiers, the ugliness of war, and the hardship that comes along with war. However, if you look back at the Trojan War and the book The Iliad, some think that a hero would be someone who could avoid conflict. Despite that the fact that the main hero of the Trojan War is mostly known to be Achilles, some think that King Priam was the main hero because he wasn't angry with Achilles even though Achilles had brutally murdered his son and then stabbed holes through his son's feet and drug him by a horse drawn chariot thereby mutilating his son's dead body. The murdered and mutilated son was called Hector. Even the Gods were angered by this disrespect for the dead and Zeus sent Iris to tell King Priam to offer a huge ransom for his son's body. It was with Hector's funeral that the Iliad ends. As to when the Trojan horse was invented and whether or not this actually happened in history, this is still unknown. The Trojan horse was mentioned in The Odyssey, yet not The Iliad.
The history of war can be studied in classrooms, through textbooks, through military history lectures, and even from reading books and watching movies about war. Parallels between different wars and different movies can be made. If this can be done, different ways of preventing war, ending war, and knowledge of the harsh consequences and realities of war can be made. Some do not like war movies because they think that they glamorize war. Since movies are literary events, the directors sometimes take liberties with facts in order to make a better story for the box office. Films are not intended to be historical textbooks. However, some also think that the main message that comes across is one of anti-war. That is, the directors get across their main message.
These sources were accessed on December 28th and December 29nth, 2018.
- Clint Eastwood: American Sniper and I are anti-war | Film | The Guardian
Director of massively successful Iraq war movie American Sniper says ‘I was not a big fan of going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan’