War Movie Miscellany

Zip

Jan 2018
478
Comancheria
I think Saving Private Ryan is overrated and not aging well. Let's face it, once over the shock of the landing scenes it's full of ****.
 
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Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
6,663
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION - Enemy at the Gates

Okay, let’s get this over with right now. For you haters out there, I like this movie. I can hear all the groans and I don’t care. And it’s not one of those unexplainable WTFs that you get when you read some critic inexplicably give a positive review to a terrible movie


“Enemy at the Gates” grew from the tiny seed of a few pages in the eponymously entitled non-fiction book by William Craig about the Battle of Stalingrad. (A book I read in high school.) Director Jean-Jacques Annaud took that seed involving a sniper’s duel in the rubble of the City of Stalin and grew a movie out of it. The movie was to be Europe’s answer to “Saving Private Ryan”. It was, at the time, the most expensive non-American movie ever made.

My loyal followers know that I put a high premium on historical accuracy, especially when the inaccuracies make a mockery of history (as in “Braveheart”, for example). “Enemy at the Gates” does little harm to history (other than the laughable poster line “A single bullet can change history”). Craig might have been suckered, but the movie is obviously not a propaganda piece. The Zaitsev seed may have been fertilized with a ton of Soviet manure, but it makes for good entertainment for war movie lovers and more importantly for civilians (especially women).

“Enemy at the Gates” is a fine example of a modern war movie. It does retain some of the elements and cliches of old school movies, but adds modern pizzazz and technology. The movie is surprisingly unpredictable to go along with its predictability. The action scenes are kinetic and the suspense is palpable. The acting is good, especially Hoskins (he chews the scenery – just like Khrushchev did) and Harris.

The cinematography is excellent as are the sets. A lot of money went into rubble. The musical score is memorable and repeats a strong motif for impending suspense. The sound effects are also top notch. The theme of a manufactured hero is reminiscent of “Flags of Our Fathers”.


Is it “Saving Private Ryan”? Definitely not. It’s a game try and you can’t seriously expect Europeans to duplicate an American epic. (Sorry, I didn’t mean that.)
See, I was all agreeing with you up until you said the cinematography was excellent. The cinematography is the entire reason I've never been able to finish watching that film despite half a dozen attempts. It's not just bad, it's stupid and pointless. The only thing fantastical Chinese kung fu movies have that this doesn't is flying people. And not having watched the whole thing, maybe they're in there too.
 
Mar 2019
1,801
Kansas
See, I was all agreeing with you up until you said the cinematography was excellent. The cinematography is the entire reason I've never been able to finish watching that film despite half a dozen attempts. It's not just bad, it's stupid and pointless. The only thing fantastical Chinese kung fu movies have that this doesn't is flying people. And not having watched the whole thing, maybe they're in there too.
While the history of the film can be called into question. I do think it does a good job of recreating the atmosphere that the combatants faced in Stalingrad
 

Ancientgeezer

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
8,894
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
Empire of the sun.
I was in Shanghai the week after they shot the scenes on The Bund and stayed at the Ho Ping or Peace Hotel, shown as it was in 1941 as the Cathay Hotel. Back then in 1987 Shanghai was physically much the same as it would have been in 1941, though shabbier. There were only three hotels in Shanghai considered "suitable" for foreigners and the Peace Hotel had been hurriedly restored to it's 1940s glory including, not only the decor and furnishings, but the jazz band that played in the lounge. Odd thing, they played only 1940s numbers and I found out why when during their break the trumpet player approached me and a colleague and introduced himself in perfect American English. It seems the band had been banged up in 1949 and "re-educated" to work on a farm. Released in the 1950s they were freed for a while and then banged up again in the Cultural Revolution. When China opened up and Westerners started arriving in numbers the authorities decided that they needed to be entertained and so recycled these poor chaps in their 60s and 70s.
A film, which I have not seen, was made about them as a joint Chinese-German production in 2015
 

Ancientgeezer

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
8,894
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
Holy dog s***, Texas! Only steers and queers come from Texas, private Cowboy! And you don't much look like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down! - Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
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It still amuses me that this film was shot on the Isle of Dogs (for foreign types that's the bit of land in the big curve of the River Thames) and the Fens.