Remembering Days of Glory

With Remembrance Day upon us I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about one of my favorite genres; the war film. During this time we are usually shown some of the best examples of these movies on TV to remind us of the sacrifices that were made by soldiers all over the world.

Most of the war films we associate with Remembrance Day are those depicting WW II, a truly international war involving many nations and cultures and one we are in many ways still recovering from. There is probably no one in the world whose family was not affected in some way by that war.

We have today a great selection of war films from many different countries that tell the WW II story from different perspectives.

The Holocaust: Schindler’s List (1993), Fateless (2006), The Counterfeiters (2008).

The Russian perspective: Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Commissar (Komissar) (1967), Come and See (1985), Enemy at the Gates (2001), and The Cuckoo (2003).

The Allied soldier’s perspective: Overlord (1975), Memphis Belle (1990), Saving Private Ryan (1998), U-571 (2000), and Days of Glory (2007).

Resistance movements in France: Army of Shadows (1969), Lacombe Lucien (1974), Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Resistance movements in Holland: Soldier of Orange (1979), Black Book (2007), and Winter in Wartime (2011).

Resistance movements in Poland: The Pianist (2002), In Darkness (2011).

Resistance movements Russia: Defiance (2009).

The war in the Pacific: Objective, Burma! (1945), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Thin Red Line (1999).

The Japanese perspective: The Burmese Harp (1956), Fires on the Plain (1959), and Letters from Iwo Jima (2007). 

Even Germany’s perspective: Das Boot (1981), Mephisto (1981), The Ogre (1996), Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2006), Downfall (2005), and Valkyrie (2008). 

One of the newer war perspectives comes from films dealing with ethnic soldiers under colonial rule fighting for the motherland and the prejudices they face from their own army while at the same time sacrificing their lives for the country that discriminates against them.

Days of Glory (2007) is one of these powerful films I recently watched again on Blu-ray from France and Algeria, which is a true story about Arab Muslim soldiers, recruited from the French colonies of Morocco and Algeria to fight for France. But they were heavily discriminated against and not treated with the same respect that French soldiers enjoyed and were basically used as canon fodder for the Germans, before sending in the French troops and never treated as French citizens as they were promised, even 60 years later.

Early next year we will see another film, Red Tails (2012), from Lucasfilm with a similar perspective about African American pilots fighting in the U.S. army during WW II and the discrimination they faced from their own army while dying for their country. Watch for it on January 20, 2012.



Jeannette Paladino said...

I enjoyed your summary of war films. I agree with many of your favorites which remind us of the sacrifice that so many have made to keep peace in the world and protect the way of life for those of us lucky enough to live in democracies

Michael Charney said...

Good overview of the genre and the various sub-perspectives. I was wondering where you might classify a movie like "King of Hearts" (Alan Bates, 1966_? Clearly an anti-war movie, but something even more than that. When I think of war movies it's one of the first three that always come to mind (the other two being Saving Private Ryan and Patton).

Sandra McLeod Humphrey said...

Days of Glory is one of my all-time favorites and I'm glad you selected it!

Paul said...

Nice summary of WW11 movies, seen most of them. I think there were a few that could have been added to your list such as "Where Eagles Dare" and Monte "Cassino". However the most poignant movie for me in many ways is "Schindlers List" because I first watched it in Golders Green, London England. Golders Green is an area where many European jewish people settled. Most of the people watching the movie with me were in their 70's and 80's, some had numbers tatooed on their arms and had lost family members and friends in the concentration camps.

JP said...

Wow that would have been an emotional screening. Thank you for sharing that great comment with us and for taking the time to read this post.

Dennis Salvatier said...

Days of Glory is my kind of film. Inglorious basterds is very stylized but fun. Great suggestions. I'm gonna put some of these in my netflix queue.