The Academy Awards from Sunday night got me thinking about how films can be a snapshot of prevailing moods and attitudes of the era in which they are made (not merely of which they are made - an important difference). I think there are three different American films centering on war and the military from different periods that are highly illustrative of their respective times: White Christmas, Apocalypse Now, and The Hurt Locker. Each of these films says something different about its filmmaker and the audience that received it.
White Christmas was released in 1954 and starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. The film follows two army buddies after World War II who decide to throw a gala event for their old Major. Though most of the action in the film takes place in the
Apocalypse Now is undeniably an anti-war movie. The psychological trauma that Martin Sheen’s character, Benjamin Willard, suffers, the callousness of Robert Duvall’s now-infamous line, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning… It smells like, I dunno, victory,” and the insanity of Marlon Brando’s Walter Kurtz all confront the audience to re-evaluate its thinking about war and its effects not only on the perceived enemy but also on ourselves. The film’s soundtrack, which features such eclectic pieces as “Ride of the Walkyrie” and “The End” by The Doors, creates a portrait that reflects the mood of
While there are those who condemn the War on Terror, many more people have chosen to remain neutral on the subject for fear of being labeled unpatriotic or in league with terrorists. It is this mood of neutrality that colors the film The Hurt Locker. No stance is taken on the