This week we take a look at some other unusual takes on the war film to prepare for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.
If nothing else, Tarantino can always be relied on to ruffle a few feathers and put his own individual stamp on everything he does. His new film Inglorious Basterds may take him to territories he has never gone to before (World War II) but it is still unmistakably a Tarantino film. The film follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers in Nazi occupied France who have been given a rather unusual mission: to put the fear of God into the Third Reich by brutally killing and scalping as many of them as is possible. Needless to say Saving Private Ryan it ain’t! Realism is put on the back burner as he takes a brutal romp through military history.
Still Tarantino is not the first director to look at war and see its absurdities; so before checking out Inglorious Basterds next week, we give you some other decidedly different war films to see.
1. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The film in which Kubrick looks askance at the Cold War manages to be one of the funniest films ever made while also being one of the most terrifying. General Jack Ripper, an Air Force General in the US army decides to take matters of international policy into his own psychotic hands and orders a nuclear attack against the USSR. The film then follows the consequences of his actions as the decision makers scramble around trying to salvage the situation. Unfortunately for mankind, there is not one sensible character in the bunch – the people in charge of running the world here range from the dim and pompous to the clinically insane. Dr Strangelove is one of the most quotable films ever made and Peter Sellers was never better (his ex Nazi scientist is a genius comic creation). After all the surreal shenanigans though, the ending montage of nuclear explosions to the soundtrack of Vera Lynn singing “We’ll Meet Again” brings home the madness of the nuclear arms race.
2. The Great Dictator
Proving that satirical takes on war and politics is not a new phenomenon, we go all the way back to 1940 for this Charlie Chaplin classic. Chaplin plays both a humble Jewish barber as well as demented dictator Adenoid Hynkel. The visual similarities between Chaplin and Hitler has always been a little disquieting thanks to their mutual love of the toothbrush moustache, so here the comedian takes full advantage of the fact and ruthlessly satirises the dictator and his regime. The film has extended scenes of Chaplin’s trademark physical comedy (the sequence with the balloon globe for example is particularly impressive) but it also packs quite a punch as the barber is mistaken for the dictator and ends up giving a speech to the people of Tomania in his place. The peace loving barber gives a rousing speech to the people and tells them, “To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.” Amen!
3. In The Loop
In a similar vein to Dr Strangelove, In The Loop looks at how easy it is for the world to fall off the knife edge and into war – this time thanks to the modern media and the influence it has on politics in this day and age. Written by comedy legend Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It, The Day Today, Alan Partridge etc.) it follows the chaos that occurs after a not too bright and fairly inconsequential politician (played by the hugely underrated Tom Hollander) makes an off the cuff comment in an interview that suggests war is imminent. What follows is a hilarious scramble between the U.S. and Britain as politicians, P.R. and the press that shows worryingly how easy it is for a war to be started and all because of a slip of the tongue! After very serious and worthy comments on the Iraq war (like Redacted and In the Valley of Elah) this was a refreshingly absurd look at who is pulling the strings behind world events.
Inglorious Basterds is in Irish cinemas from August 21st 2009.