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Ever since the creation of the 1937 movie Grand Illusion, people have been talking about anti-war films. Some have claimed them to be the best possible way to dissuade people from going to war, while others have called them "unpatriotic" due to their content.
Truth be told, it's really hard to determine what is an anti-war film. Considering anti-war films always involve war conflicts, many wonder if it's even possible to have a legitimate anti-war movie.
So what is an anti-war film supposed to be? What kinds of movies do people consider to be anti-war? Perhaps it's time to really think about how we label movies; and that's why we're writing this article.
What is an anti-war film?
Traditionally, an anti-war film is any movie that makes war look horrible. It's a movie that would dissuade anyone from wanting to wage war or end up on a battlefield. The idea behind the concept of an anti-war film is to prove that war is futile, and a loss for all sides involved.
The part where contention comes up is that most war movies, by definition, are also anti-war movies. The reasoning behind this is that war is ugly. There's a reason why veterans have the saying, "War is hell."
Any movie that accurately portrays war scenes will end up having people recoil in horror. Yet, at the same time, it's hard not to admire the strength of soldiers who go to war. So, how can war and anti-war movies be one and the same? In concept, they really can't.
In practice, though, some are definitely more pro-war than others.
Though there's some contention there, it's clear that there are definitely some movies that bring out the horrors of war much more than others. Those are the movies people tend to see as anti-war films.
What is an anti-war film you can watch to get a great idea of the genre?
There are a million different anti-war films you can watch, many of them wildly popular in mainstream media. Some of the most popular anti-war movies include classics like Threads, Paths of War, Full Metal Jacket, and Dr. Strangelove.
You might have noticed that some of the movies just mentioned don't necessarily take place on the battlefield. This is very different from war movies, which almost always involve shots fired, in one sense or another.
Threads, for example, is a documentary of what would happen to a number of different people if a nuclear war occurred in London. In this dramatization, people die, revolutions happen, and the movie ends with a lead character giving birth to a deformed baby. None of this paints war in a good light; but nothing from it really shows battle action, in the traditional sense of the word.
Many of the movies that fit the anti-war genre do not take place on the battlefield. Some aren't even heart-wrenching, but actually take a look at how ridiculous war is — like Dr. Strangelove. The classic comedy made a point to lampoon the folly of United States generals and leadership, begging people to question whose judgment they're listening to when they send others off to war.
What is an anti-war film supposed to do?
Simply put, an anti-war film is supposed to make you feel like war is not the answer. It's a movie that may highlight the futility of it all, the psychological impact, or even the impact on a family. Some of the best war movies of all time are anti-war movies, because of how they portray the reality.
While many war movies tend to play up the soldiers, and make it a fight against 'the bad guys,' anti-war movies tend to show both sides of the conflict, in a realistic way.
Obviously, there's a lot of politics involved in both war and anti-war films. In the past, showing war films was a way to spread propaganda. Some critics may say that era never ended, with many Navy SEAL movies being examples of modern American propaganda.
A lot of people may find anti-war movies to be less propagandistic. However, it's important to remember that many political groups might not want war. So, it's often a matter of it being "two sides of the same coin." Despite them being political in nature, most critics will tell you that anti-war movies tend to be more honest in their portrayal of the brutality of war than pro-war films. Whether they are geared toward a certain audience or not, these films are examples of actuality.
At the end of the day, every film is a statement about our world. So, what is an anti-war film? It's a statement that says that war probably isn't the answer.