War Films Review
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The film industry has evolved to consist of many different genres over time, since the 19th century. Their classification is according to the theme, setting, mood, concepts or the emotional setting of the film. The genres range from fiction, sport, action, musical, film noir, adventure, comedy, crime, mystery, romance, war, disaster, documentary, drama, epic, family, fantasy, thriller, science fiction, and others (Alsinet).
War films are a genre that focuses on military operations, covert operations and other related issues that revolve around land, naval or air battles. Their basis is on true stories from history, fiction or documentation of actual battles (Clarke). Most of the films made about war have incorporated the horrors of war in the production because of the soldiers and civilians who suffer the negative effects of war and war crimes. Their production combines war with other sideline stories that from other genres in order to create a whole picture of lives around people involved in the war.
Guillermo Del Toro; a Mexican designer, director, producer and film screenwriter has made a well-known name for his work. His work consists of war, fiction and fantasy. He started the art of film making from an early age. Some of his famous work includes the Pan’s Labyrinth film and the Hell boy film franchise.
The movie Pans Labyrinth is about a child facing terror both within her family and the terror of war. The movie is a fiction story of a story that takes place in Spain in the year 1944, five years after the brutal Spanish civil war, which occurred during the early Francoist period (Cortada). The plot of the movie is in a mythical world, which includes a combination of real world and fiction features.
A young girl who encounters a fairy fantasyland in her attempt to escape the terrors of the real world plays the main character in the story. The narration focuses on a world centered towards a labyrinth garden that is old and overgrown, and is a habitat for strange, magical creatures. These recreational stories are from the stories on the mythical beliefs of the roman culture (Jones).
The movie starts with a fairy tale told of a princess Moanna from the Underground realm, which according to belief escaped to earth, forgot her past and died. Her father still has hopes for her return. This fairy tale joins with a story of a Young girl named Ofelia, who is travelling with her expectant mother to join her new stepfather. She spots an insect, which she believes is a fairy, since she is a big fan of fairy tales. She chases the insect into an ancient Labyrinth garden.
Her stepfather is the captain of the Spanish Guerrillas and he treats them with cruelty, violence, and tyranny and un- ethical behavior. The story unfolds as the girl follows the fairy into the muddy garden as the rest of the family enjoys a dinner arranged by her stepfather. She meets a faun who shares his belief in her being the reincarnation of the lost princess and offers to help her complete the tasks that would return her to her father before the full moon.
There are concurrent events of Ofelia undertaking her chores in the garden where she gets instructions on how to fight for her life, while her stepfather interrogates and kills rebels. Both cases involve fighting and brutality, as there are cases of the captain’s murders of people in cold blood and the adventures of Ofelia as monsters kill and eat her fairy friends. Her mother dies during giving birth to her brother after the house help burns her remedy from the fairyland to ease her mother’s pain.
The climax of the movie is an un- expected event as the faun convinces Ofelia to sacrifice her brother to prove herself. The general intervenes and shoots her in the stomach but as he leaves, by the house help assists the rebels to capture and kill him. Ofelias blood open a way to the underworld where she is reunited with the king and achieves immortality. The narration explains her rule of many centuries with peace and justice years after that (Jones).
The movie has made use of computer-generated effects to complete the fantasy. The producers used creative imagery to display epic fairy tale of scary monsters that are harsh while delivering a message of beautiful deeds. The movie has blended the horrors of the real world and fairyland to create a fiction story of the horrors that haunt people during the war.
The little girl has an imagination of her responsibilities to save a kingdom due to the horror she has faced in the brutality she has faced in the civil war. The screenwriter to portray a child who is afraid as she loses her mother and dies by the hand of a brutal stepfather in an attempt to save her brother uses her imagination. The woods are an image of a scary country filled with brutal rebels who raid civilians of their supplies. She hides in the imagination where she is a hero to avoid the reality of her true life.
The movie is a political tale disguised in a fairy tale and magic. He displays the use of power and immorality through the characters cast in the movie. The harsh rules of the fairy world that leaves the child without any other way to prove herself, but to sacrifice herself are a metaphor if what the people of Spain went through during the civil war. The fairy tale offers the girl an escape from the reality of her harsh stepfather.
The bravery that the girl shows is a result of the many occurrences she has had to be by herself and the rebellion she has learnt by observing her father and other grownups. She portrays attributes of both strength and kindness both of which she has gained due to adaptation to the ongoing war. It is clear that the aggression and passiveness of the general is because of the fact that he is interested in the mother because of the unborn child.
The film does not appeal to very young ages because of the brutality and scary creatures involved. The older viewers and adults who understand the metaphors of war are the ones who enjoy the film. The directors have used special effects and make- up in the movie to create a real visual image of the fantasy world. The music and creates suspense and scary effects which succeed in making it interestingly scary. It has a rich lighting effect and color range that aids the creation of a fantasy world.
Louis Mandoki, a student of fine arts in Mexico has also been a leading player in the production of war films. His film Voces Inocentes; innocent voices also shows the injustices of war against children and innocent people. The 2004 film has a plot set during the Salvadorian war in the year 1980. The story focuses on the life of innocent people including a young boy forced to join the military forces against his will (Innocent Voices)
Based on the real-life story of a boy who survived the brutality of the Salvadorian civil war, the plot of the movie is set in the year 1980. The movie portrays the political background of a country where war victimized many innocent people in different ways. Families and friends are ripped apart as people live in fear of chaos and terror caused by the anarchy rules.
A story unfolds of a boy who living with his mum, sister and younger brother. Their father left them when the war begun fleeing to the United States. The boy lives in fear since he is about to get to the age of twelve, when the army starts recruiting members aged twelve and above. School canceled due to war intensity and the boy must hide on rooftops to avoid recruitment by force. His uncle is a part of the resistance and can only visit in secret.
The story continues with the boy witnessing as his girlfriends sister dies due to the inhumanity of the war. His Uncle gives him a radio that gets him in trouble as the army almost picked him for listening to the banned broadcast called the voice of the people. Torture and fear grips his every moment, as he has to watch his friends who are marched out of school for recruitment as cold blood killers.
Poor families suffer, as they have to keep curfews as they worry about where the children are. Even the most innocent of deeds as the boy receives a piece of chewing gum from an American soldier is not acceptable. The mother tells the boy to spit it out because the man trains soldiers who kill villagers. The boy finally escapes to the United States and promises to go back for his younger brother when he turns twelve.
The story is about the plight of many innocent children subjected to the horrors of war at a tender age. Their family and friends try to save them but only a few succeed. Children continue to suffer with abductions, sexual abuse, recruitment and human right violations during war. The film portrays these horrors in the eyes of a young boy who tries to escape.
The movie has taken the side of the resistance since the government’s wrongs emerge from the eyes of the young boy. The producers have created an innocent character that appeals to the viewer and creates a bad mood towards the government. The movie incorporates the use of obscene language, brutality and explicit scenes, which portray the real times of war where common decency is a rare value; hence, it is not suitable for viewership by children.
The directors have tried to make the scenes look as real as possible by using characters that are from the Mexican decent. The plot of the movie incorporates people living in extremely poor conditions hence depicting the real picture of the time. The special effects make the pain and the deaths look real hence reaching out to the viewer. The use of a young boy emphasizes on the seriousness of the problem of child recruitment. It is a story that shows the effects of political failures on personal lives (Varela).
Another film that is perceptive about child psychological trauma because of war is Au Revoir Les Enfants that means Goodbye Children. The movie by Lous Malle is a recreation of a true story of an event that took place in January 1944. Based on his personal recollections, Malle tells a story of his childhood schooling days during the time that Germans occupied France.
The plot of the movie is in France, during the winter of 1994. Malle lets the story unfold about how the war affected friends and turned them into betrayers filled with guilt. The producers used the lives of normal school attending children to bring out the evils of the war upon civilians (Berleand).
A young boy named Julien enrolls in a catholic boarding school in the country following an evacuation from his home city. The others tease the boy because who is more serious than they are. He has a rival Jean who the classmates tease more because he looks different, and soon they become friends. Later in the movie, Julien discovers that jean is a Jew but he does not hate him. The Nazis receive a tip off from a former employee and they send a squad to the school where they find more children under the protection by the administration. They round them up and deport them together with their Jewish teacher. The children were killed as their teacher dies shortly after being imprisoned.
The film ends on an unhappy note leaving the viewer sad about the plight of France under the Jewish unfortunate saga. It focuses on the negative effect the Nazis caused upon children torn away from their families and their disrupted school life. The brutal encounters by the Jews under the Nazi regime have haunted Malle to his adulthood. The filmmaker describes the pain he has had to live in as he remembers the events of that year. This explains why most of his films focus on exceptional horror fiction and documentaries of real war events.
He has used a simple technique that does not have many visual effects. The sound effects are at par with the scenes as they set the solemn mood highlighted in the plot. The movie has children as the main characters but it is not suitable for children viewership because of the brutal scenes and the solemn mood. The characters main objective is to portray the real events as they were, and they have done a good job.
In conclusion, the films have brought out the side (Cortada)of war that is not about the hero who fights to save a country or an individual. They have used the most innocent of civilians that is children to portray the adverse effects of the trauma caused by war. The children are all trying to go through life but their psychological conditions are not well due to the trauma that they have experienced in the war (Varela).
The community is aware of the adverse terror put upon innocent people in war-stricken countries. The movies try to appeal to the public by relating the horror stories to personal lives to make the sensitization campaigns effective. The forcing of children under twelve years to violate human rights to their fellow citizens raises alarm all over the world. Filmmakers such as Mandoki hope to bring sensitization to the horrors encountered by such children from viewers all over the world.
War has adverse effects on children and their parents usually occupied elsewhere to listen to their plights. They often suffer in silence, as they do not know how to deal with the terrible scenes surrounding them. The art of making movies about the war increases the spread of humanitarian acts all over the world. The producers of films based on war focus on showing the public the side of war not discussed during war due to victimization of the people involved.
The directors paint courageous children who have to go through the horrors of war and survive the ordeal. They tell of stories of children and families who have to hide, join resistances of even flee their homes to escape from the war. The producers of these films have not portrayed the soldiers as the heroes of the story, because they are the cause of all the sadness that the civilians go through. The children depicted in the films have lost their innocence and while being forced to grow up.
The events have caused some to lose the reality of the events around them as they create fantasy worlds to escape. This is a result of the conditions that they live by which force them to learn to defend themselves since their danger surrounds their homes. Many viewers of these films sympathize with the civilians and the heroes of the stories are the brave families and children, as they learn how to deal with terror in the different ways.
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