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February 09, 2007

Comments

Greg Kuperberg

I saw The Battle of Algiers basically on your recommendation and I liked it. It wasn't perfect: One of the producers was an Algerian who wanted propaganda in his own favor, while the director was an equally propagandistic Communist. Even so, it was good.

I saw Apocalypse Now and I have to say that it is overrated and not entirely trustworthy. But it is not bad.

I have a file of personal movie ratings and several war movies have my top rating (a 5): Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory, Caine Mutiny, Bridge on the River Kwai, To Be or Not To Be. Not all of them are unconditionally antiwar, though.

If you want to enjoy another very original sort-of war movie, I suggest Grave of the Fireflies.

Minipundit

I saw The Battle of Algiers basically on your recommendation and I liked it. It wasn't perfect: One of the producers was an Algerian who wanted propaganda in his own favor, while the director was an equally propagandistic Communist. Even so, it was good.
At the end of the day, what good things weren't the product of a creative Communist? Anyway, I'm glad this blog is at least minimally useful.

I saw Apocalypse Now and I have to say that it is overrated and not entirely trustworthy. But it is not bad.
It's not meant to be "trustworthy" - it's fiction, not a documentary. And I can see how one can think it's overrated. But it still blew me away, even after hearing every possible adulation it was adorned with.

I have a file of personal movie ratings and several war movies have my top rating (a 5): Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory, Caine Mutiny, Bridge on the River Kwai, To Be or Not To Be. Not all of them are unconditionally antiwar, though.
I hate to say that I've only seen Strangelove and Kwai of that list. And, to be fair, Strangelove and To Be or Not To Be might be war movies, but they're not combat movies. And Pan's Labyrinth is not anti-war at all. It loves Republican anti-fascist insurgents.

If you want to enjoy another very original sort-of war movie, I suggest Grave of the Fireflies.
I may or may not have seen that when I was younger and my brother and I were very into animé. I should definitely give it another view.

Greg Kuperberg

At the end of the day, what good things weren't the product of a creative Communist?

Grr...It's a joke question of course, and maybe you are mainly referring to art. It's easy for me to be peevish about this question since I was born in a Communist country. For the record, Alfred Hitchcock could be my favorite director, and he was not a Communist.

It's not meant to be "trustworthy" - it's fiction, not a documentary.

Fiction certainly can be untrustworthy. Good fiction comes with intentions, messages, and implications; and yet it can betray its would-be purposes.

Apocalypse Now should make you hate the Vietnam War --- it wouldn't be a good movie without that implication --- but it doesn't lead to much sound thinking about the war. It might make you hate a war in Vietnam, but not necessarily the one that the US actually fought. Or some viewers might even enjoy the sensationalized Vietnam war in that movie.

Admittedly it isn't easy for a war movie to be fair to history. Even Bridge on the River Kwai is not as fair as I might have hoped. But I think that the others that I listed are generally fair, if for different reasons.

Minipundit

Grr...It's a joke question of course, and maybe you are mainly referring to art. It's easy for me to be peevish about this question since I was born in a Communist country. For the record, Alfred Hitchcock could be my favorite director, and he was not a Communist.
I didn't realize you were actually born in Hungary; apologies.

Fiction certainly can be untrustworthy. Good fiction comes with intentions, messages, and implications; and yet it can betray its would-be purposes.
Apocalypse Now should make you hate the Vietnam War --- it wouldn't be a good movie without that implication --- but it doesn't lead to much sound thinking about the war. It might make you hate a war in Vietnam, but not necessarily the one that the US actually fought. Or some viewers might even enjoy the sensationalized Vietnam war in that movie.
Admittedly it isn't easy for a war movie to be fair to history. Even Bridge on the River Kwai is not as fair as I might have hoped. But I think that the others that I listed are generally fair, if for different reasons.

Apocalypse Now is a great movie without any normative implications about the war the same way that Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a great movie without any normative implications about he Conquistadors. Both are adaptations of Heart of Darkness, and that novel's greatness is the more important factor.

Greg Kuperberg

I didn't realize you were actually born in Hungary

Poland.

Apocalypse Now is a great movie without any normative implications about the war

I wasn't convinced. Parts of it were, but it didn't quite hang together for me. As you say, it was transplanted from Joseph Conrad's Congo to Vietnam. It wasn't a perfect fit, in my view.

Minipundit

Poland.
My bad.

I wasn't convinced. Parts of it were, but it didn't quite hang together for me. As you say, it was transplanted from Joseph Conrad's Congo to Vietnam. It wasn't a perfect fit, in my view.
I don't know; having read Conrad and watched Coppola, I'd say it fits pretty well.

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