As far back as the 30s, celebrities and even cartoon characters endorsed the purchase of war bonds to support World War I. Then again, there were those who opposed war. For example, producers came up with films such as "Johnny Got his Gun
" in 1971, which was based on the 1938 anti-war novel by Dalton Trumbo.
Today the genre has become a standard by directors, writers, and producers who have a missive for the mass audience. Although many films, such as Robert Altman's
1970 film "M*A*S*H
," were thinly disguised as the Korean War to show opposition to Vietnam, just as many were made for the opposite end of the scale. For example, the real-life heroics of Audie Murphy and John Kennedy during World War II were showcased in "To Hell In Back
" in 1955 and "PT 109
" in 1963.
Currently, many films are being made about the conflict in the Middle East, several of which have been recently released or will be in the next few months.
In "In The Valley of Elah
," which was released last month, Tommy Lee Jones
plays a war veteran who with the assistance of his wife (Susan Sarandon
) and a police detective (Cherize Theron
,) seeks information on his son, who turns up missing shortly after returning from the Iraq War. The film is loosely based on the story of Richard Davis, who was murdered after returning home in 2003.
Gavin Hood's "Rendition
," also released in October, concerns an American woman (Reese Witherspoon
) who is trying to find answers about her husband's disappearance after U.S. authorities suspect him of being involved in terrorist activities. Jake Gyllenhaal
plays one of the government men who knows about his rendition. The film represents the fear of many Middle Easterners who now reside in the United States.John Cusack
stars in "Grace is Gone
," a touching film about a man who doesn't know how to tell his kids that their mother has died while on duty. This is definitely a differing point of view than is displayed in most war films since the victim is a female soldier. Due to be released in December, it has already won awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival and will surely be noticed around Academy Awards season.
Opening this past weekend, "Lions for Lambs
" is a story about two university students who are so inspired by one of their professors that they join the battle in Afghanistan. Conflicts ensue that make this a complicated issue for both the soldiers and those who are left behind. As Derek Luke
states in his dialogue, "These events are going to affect our lives." This movie is another high-budget vehicle that features the likes of Meryl Streep
, Robert Redford
, and Tom Cruise
, and will undoubtedly create national attention because of its principal actors.
Also featuring the setting of Afghanistan conflict comes "Charlie Wilson's War
" by director Mike Nichols
. Starring Tom Hanks
and Julia Roberts
, this cinema offering has a release date in December. The drama, based on the book of the same name, centers on a Texas senator who provides funds to the Mujahideen following the 1979 Soviet invasion.
Premiering at the Venice Film Festival this year and slated for selected screenings this month is "Redacted
." Directed by Brian De Palma
, the film is based on a real-life incident. The story is constructed in montage style and follows the lives of several soldiers in Iraq and the repercussions that result from a violent action. Rated R, this is definitely not one for the kids or the weak at heart.
Also based on reality, "Battle for Hidatha
" concerns an investigation of the death of 24 men, women and children, who were allegedly shot by four Marines after one of their own is killed by a roadside bomb. The film seeks to portray the angles of the soldiers, the insurgents, and an Iraqi family. Watch for it in December.
Why is the war genre so popular now? If you or someone you love is in the military, perhaps it is a way to stay in touch. For those who are pro-war, it can be a justification. For those against it, it is a way to protest. At the very least, it is a frightening piece of history that can and should be recorded.
Story by Sheila Franklin
Starpulse.com contributing writer