Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top 3 Worst War Films

Back in September, The Osprey Publishing Blog had a post on the Top 3 Worst War Films. I discovered this post via the 7th Military History Carnival. The carnival author noted, "I asked what the Top Three Worst War films were and what war films our readers would like to see."

I found the discussion on this post inspiring. I can come up with three bad war films! My reasons are different from those who posted (I am not clever enough to recognize the wrong uniforms and planes in the films) but I do like well told stories that at least try to be close to historical reality. Poor or silly story lines helped me come up with a list of three.

My choices:

Wake Island (1942) - The ending of this film is entirely fictitious. The movie shows the Wake Island garrison fighting to the last man. In reality, they surrendered to the Japanese after repelling the first wave of the Japanese attack. They could have held out longer and may well have done so if the survivors had known what they were going to be in for at the hands of the Japanese. I do not find the film that well done well technically either. The film probably achieved the goal of helping encourage American men to enlist and to show that American soldiers were hard fighters, but the film is still bad history and makes the top of my list for bad war films.

The Patriot (2000) - This is not a bad action movie and do like Mel Gibson. However, the portrayal of the British in the film is unacceptable. They were not Nazis and did not participate routinely in the slaughter of children, women, and captured soldiers. They did not burn down churches full of civilians. And the Americans did not win the Battle of Guildford Courthouse. The British did. This film is just a really bad representation of the American Revolutionary War.

Independence Day (1996) - Ok, this film is not based on history. It is alternate history based on what might have happened if aliens bent on eradicating the human race had invaded Earth in the 1990s. It is not real history but it is a war film so I can include it on my list. The movie is exciting, has some good acting, and it technically brilliant. I actually loved the President's inspirational speech before the final climatic battle. However, how is it that a technologically advanced species that can travel between stars can lose dogfight battles with 90s era fighter planes? Why are their alien computers vulnerable to a computer virus? Is the evolution of computers on different worlds so similar that uploading a virus based on a human created programming language would have any chance of working? How is it that the aliens had such bad record keeping that they did not notice a ship missing for forty years (the Roswell crashed one!) attempting to dock on their mothership? And of course we also learn that an alcoholic dust cropper can learn to fly a fighter jet in under a day and win a battle almost all by himself.

If this topic interests you, go take a look at the post that inspired this at the Osprey Publishing Blog. Many films are nominated for a variety of reasons and it is worth perusing.


Jennie W said...

I'm so glad you included The Patriot on your list. That is one is on my list of absolutely terrible movies! Besides all the inaccuracies on the war, Gibson's character would have never existed! A South Carolina farmer would have NEVER used freed African-Americans - that is just fiction to make us feel better about our founding fathers. Wealthy southern farmers were slave owners (if you want a non-slave owner you have to look at the northerners or non-farmers). Slavery was a terrible practice, but it is part of our history and need to acknowledge it so we can learn from it. Shoving it under the carpet and pretending it doesn't exist doesn't help anyone.

The Minstrel Boy said...

Also glad you included The Patriot. for the same reasons it makes my list.

i had to add john wayne's The Green Berets.

i agree that apocolypse now was historically flawed. however, it, more than any other vietnam film evoked emotions for me that were comparable to the emotions i felt while in the field. it worked for me on that level. far more odious for me was the deer hunter.

Wily said...

You missed "Pearl Harbor."

If laser cannons would have been added to the aircraft, perhaps the movie could have been marketed as Historical Parody.

However, the scene where a woman is listening to a live-action, running commentary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo is...well, so fanciful, the director might as well have added WonderWoman's invisible jet to the raid.

: )


War Movies said...

I thought The Last Drop (2005) was one of the worst I've ever seen. Not due to historical reasons, but mainly because the acting was terrible.