This heroic story commemorates the sacrifices of the first all-black battalion to fight in the Civil War – who were, nevertheless, led by a white man, Robert Gould Shaw. Based on a true story, Shaw and the men of his unit face prejudice from both Union and Confederate forces, but come together to prove themselves and to fight for the ideal of freedom.
Saving Private Ryan (2:49:00)
This too is based on a true story. It’s one of Spielberg’s greatest achievements: a cinematographic masterpiece that will overwhelm you with its power from its first frames. It’s both brutal and incredibly moving, epic and highly personal. It emphasizes the bravery and immense sacrifices of those who served, as well as the massive carnage and its randomness.
Apocalypse Now (2:27:00)
Frances Ford Coppola’s homage to Joseph Conrad’s 19
Heart of Darkness, this film is set during the Vietnam War with its guerrilla warfare, jungle-like terrain, and lack of military strategy. As in
Heart of Darkness, the Westerners/white men unleash their racial prejudices and false sense of moral superiority on the native population. As to plot, Martin Sheen—who thoroughly becomes Captain Willard—is sent on a deadly journey into Cambodia “to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe” (IMDB). Marlon Brando, in what is basically a cameo, plays Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. This movie mines the psychological depths of the ravages of war, while also commenting on the politics that put us there.
The Hurt Locker (2:11:00)
Kathryn Bigelow’s gritty, documentary-style portrayal of the Iraqi war through the lens of a bomb squad and its new sergeant who doesn’t play by the rules, won six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. The film shows the precarious nature of occupation and the incredible anxieties that both soldiers and citizens felt towards each other in this hostile, always volatile environment where the enemy was never easily identified and was often as much within as without.
Choose one of this week’s films.* How would you describe this film’s examination of the war it represents? Realistic? Abstract? Ironic? Detached? Humorous? Brutal? All of these are complex films, so the answer is probably some combination of the aforementioned–and more. Given this, what seems to be this film’s attitude toward this war, and the people who fought it? As always, choose at least two scenes to use as supporting examples for your argument. Screen shot each of them. Be specific in your analysis, and do not summarize.