Like most of the world, there is a good chance you missed seeing The Hurt Locker – one of the best war movies ever made. Sadly the war movies that typically make the big bucks are full of patriotic jingoisms that somehow convince teenage boys that dying for your country is something to be proud of, but every so often a few come along that go against the grain. A wise person once pointed out that the attractiveness of combat scenes on film will overpower any underlying anti-war message – but this list is about great movies, not politics.
The Hurt Locker brings the audience to the edge with an almost schizophrenic style of cinematography that is the best example of the never ending tension of war we have ever on the screen. Director Kathryn Bigelow is best known to us for directing Point Break (it has taken years of therapy to admit this in public) but the star of this movie is definitely cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and his cameras: A Super16mm with Aaton XTR-Prods and A-Minimas and Canon zoom lenses, with Fuji 250D 8663 and 500T 8673 film and the Phantom HD camera for the great high-speed material.
Kippur is a great Israeli war movie that Roy Elghanyan, our former special forces neighbor turned Krav Maga Trainer to the stars, brought by our office the other day. Set during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israel was attacked by Syria and Egypt on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar (imagine if the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Christmas day), there's very little plot to the movie; just death. One character goes straight from making love to his girlfriend onto a battlefield of brutally disfigured bodies. No heroic speeches or charges in this movie, just shots of destruction followed by the effect they cause on human bodies.
Stalingrad embarrasses Saving Private Ryan with its accurate portrayal of German soldiers during the horrific siege of Stalingrad. There are a few instances of humanity in Stalingrad -- like a enemy soldiers exchanging food, but these are exceptions. Stalingrad's visual power comes from portraying of terrible reality of war - decapitations, amputations, horrible deaths, and mutilations. Nothing is gratuitous; everything is effective. Director Joseph Vilsmaier puts us in the trenches with men, who he would like to show are no different from soldiers on any side in any war. There is no doubt that German soldiers suffered during the war, but if I have an issue with this movie it is that they are still Nazi’s who invaded the country and committed horrible atrocities everywhere they went. Trying to pawn responsibility for this on the SS is the weak link in this movie.
The Odd Angry Shot is a great Australian movie set during Vietnam. War sucks, hardly an original theme, but showing how you get through it with the help of your mates is what makes this movie work. Not quite an Australian version of Platoon, but a movie with great performances through and through. Combat scenes don’t really shine, but then again it was shot for $600,000.
Sadly our UPS guy was slow this week, but we hope to have a part two to this list shortly.