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Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Movie MeMe--Don't Know Much About History



Today's Monday Movie MeMe theme, hosted by The Bumbles, is Historical Films. Out of the thousands of films that could be included in this list, I chose to concentrate on an area that fascinated me as a teenager...World War II movies. I watched as many as I could find on our three television stations. They still intrigue me.

Saving Private Ryan  tops my list as having the most realistic battle scene on the beaches of Normandy. My father-in-law wanted to see this when it came out, so I took him. In all, I've seen it four times. David asked me how I could watch it more than once.

The Longest Day was the original film depicting D-Day, and you can't have a WWII movie list without including one of John Wayne's best.

Patton won eight Academy Awards, including a Best Actor Oscar for George C. Scott. General George S. Patton was a complex man who wrote poetry, loved America and hated diplomacy. Who can forget him standing in front of that gigantic flag and giving his famous speech to the Third Army?
"I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country."

Tora! Tora! Tora!  was a collaboration between Japanese and American co-producers. It tells the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor from both sides and how the United States almost fumbled the ball in the Pacific theater. As the two sides plunge closer to war, the tension escalates until the final, spectacular air raid, the most realistic ever filmed.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is David Lean's best film. It tells the story of British and American prisoners-of-war in Burma who are forced to build a bridge by their Japanese captors. The officers conspire to blow up the bridge so that it can't be used by the enemy, but Colonel Nicholson (a fabulous Alec Guiness) takes pride in the structure that is built under his supervision and tries to stop them. It won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Guiness).

Schindler's List is Steven Spielberg's finest movie to date. Oskar Schindler is a pragmatic, womanizing businessman who uses Polish Jews as cheap labor in his factory to make cookware for the Third Reich. Schindler slowly comes to realize the immensity of the evil that is taking place as the Jews in the Krakow ghetto are quickly and systematically taken away to be liquidated. His workers end up in the concentration camp run by the sadistic Aman Goeth. Schindler strikes a deal with the money-hungry Goeth and smuggles his workers out of the camp to his factory in Czechoslovakia. With the help of his accountant, Itzhak Stern, he manages to get 1100 people to safety. He can't rest though, because he believes he could have saved more.

The Pianist is Roman Polanski's story of Wladysaw Szpilman, a classical pianist who performs for radio audiences in Warsaw. Adrien Brody perfectly captures the heart of this survivor. His family is all whisked away, but somehow Wladysaw manages to survive, sometimes on sheer will alone. His imagined playing of the beautiful music that he loves helps him overcome the loneliness and hunger that surrounds him. The climactic scene in which Szpilman has to actually play for a German soldier is filled with spine-tingling tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

The Diary of Anne Frank captivated my young mind, both in film and in the book. The director, George Stevens, wanted to pay tribute to this courageous young girl after having witnessed the Nazi death camps. Anne makes the best of a bad situation when her family of four is forced into hiding along with four other Jewish people. Anne's hopefulness and romanticism in the face of impending doom makes us hope for the best, even though we know the outcome.

There are so many more movies I could have put on this list, but as usual I've gone on too long. Forgive me, I love movies.

This clip is from the final scenes of Schindler's List. It is an emotional one.

43 comments:

CottageGirl said...

Excellent movie choices, Susan. Each is better than the next! So realistic. So touching. They all represent history so well and each reminds us of the extreme sacrifices made by normal people who were forced to step up and stand by their convictions. Inspiring!

Char said...

Schindler's List is one I always recommend to watch because it is so very important. Great choices.

Sandy Nawrot said...

You know I am obsessed with all things WWII, so it was very hard for me to not do a list with only those movies. Love Schindler's List (would've listed it had I not just mentioned it at the Black & White theme!)and The Pianist. Awesome list of movies Susan!

Kamana said...

i went to watch schindler's list with a german friend, and half way through the film she broke down, crying hysterically. it is such a moving film.

Heather said...

Some excellent selections, Susan, including a couple (eg, The Pianist) I've not yet seen.

Elle Bee said...

This is a great list--many of these would be on my own list. I'd love to hang out with you on a rainy day and watch movies together! :o)

Susan said...

CG, they didn't name it "The Greatest Generation" for no reason. As you said, people really lived by what they believed and sacrificed whatever they had to do it. I'm not sure I would have the fortitude to live as they did.

Susan said...

Char, I've only been able to watch Schindler's List one time. I was so broken up by it that I get emotional just talking about it. It's one of the greatest movies of all time, IMO.

Susan said...

Thanks, Sandy! You always come up with such great lists! You're as big of a movie buff as I am! We'll have to get together some day and have a WWII movie fest!

Susan said...

Kamana, it certainly is moving. I think I cried through the entire film. I can see why your friend would be so emotional. It's hard to think of one's own country having allowed something so heinous to occur.

Susan said...

Heather, I think The Pianist escaped a lot of people's viewing. It really is a great movie and Adrien Brody deserved the Oscar that he won.

Susan said...

Elle, that sounds like a fabulous idea! I'll bring the popcorn and the hot chocolate!

steviewren said...

I've seen them all and agree with your excellent choices.

Deborah said...

I was telling my sons that they just have to watch 'The Great Escape' and not just for Steve McQueen and the motorcycle scene. I cried my eyes out when Donald Pleasance died (in the movie).
"The Dam Busters' was a good one too, close to my heart because my dad flew a Lancaster bomber for the RAF and had all kinds of airplane stories for us when we were kids.
I loved 'The Pianist too'...heartbreaking.
Happy New Year to you - I'll be travelling for about a week and won't have much time for blogging but will see you again when I'm back in France.

The Gal Herself said...

I agree with you 110% on The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne is such a blameless, sensitive heroine in such heartbreaking circumstances -- no author could have created a more moving story.

Kathleen said...

This is quite a list. Of these, I'd say that Saving Private Ryan is my favorite (although gut-wrenching).

kaye said...

you picked some good ones--ones that really made you take a look at where we've been. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on

Wanda said...

I loved all these movies too Susan...Sophie's Choice was another great one!

Cindy said...

you can come hang out at our house anytime! It seems like we watch movies every evening while the weather is cold. So many good ones here!

The Bumbles said...

I completely agree with Saving Private Ryan and the brutal realism in the opening sequences. That happened to be the first thing I ever saw in HD.

As for Tora Tora Tora - I always thought it was some cheesy musical!!! Now that you've pointed out what it really is I am much more interested in checking it out :0)

California Girl said...

I think I was pretty into WWII as a kid so my references are older. One of my favorites was "They Were Expendable". Also loved "A Guy Named Joe", "Bridge On the River Kwai" and "From Here to Eternity". Oh, and let's not forget the most romantic of all WWII films, "Casablanca".

ds said...

Nothing to apologize for, Susan. This is an excellent list, and a reminder of several wonderful and important movies I have yet to see. Thank you.

Susan said...

Thank you, Stevie, you have good taste in movies.

Susan said...

Deborah, I'm so glad that your dad survived that awful war to come home with exciting stories for his children. I hadn't heard of The Dam Busters...I'll look it up.

We're big fans of The Great Escape and Steve McQueen around here! I loved James Garner, too. Donald Pleasance must have been a favorite of John Sturges, the producer/director. He was also in Sturges' last film, The Eagle Has Landed.

Happy New Year and I hope your journey is pleasant. Be safe.

Susan said...

Gal, I quite agree with you. It still moves me that this little girl was so full of life and expectations and to have them snuffed out before she had a chance to realize them...it is heartbreaking.

Susan said...

Kathleen, I can remember sitting in that movie theater and just being blown away by the power of the emotions running through me.

Susan said...

Kaye, thank you. I really submerged myself in WWII history when I was in high school. Of course, it had been less than 25 years since the war ended at that time and I had several teachers who had been in the war and went to college on the G.I. Bill, so it was still pretty fresh for them.

Susan said...

Wanda, I agree with you on Sophie's Choice. There were so many heartbreaking stories that came out of that war.

Susan said...

Thank you, Cindy! I'll be right over with the popcorn and hot chocolate! You guys would be fun to watch with...I can just imagine the critiquing at the end! Or during, if it's boring! :)

Susan said...

Ha! Molly, that's funny! I guess it could seem that way if you didn't know. :)

That was quite an introduction to HD! It was even more impressive seeing it on the big screen with all the surround sound coming at you. Talk about feeling like you were right in the middle of the action! Gruesome action at that.

Susan said...

Cali Girl, the only one I haven't seen on your list is A Guy Named Joe. They Were Expendable was very good. I think I only saw it one time, so I don't remember much about it.

From Here to Eternity and Casablanca, of course, are wonderful examples. I love them both.

Susan said...

You're welcome, ds! Just doing my civic duty! :)

Dorothy said...

That's a great list of movies, I've still not been able to see Schindler's list there is so much injustice in this world.

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

kaye said...

Susan,

I've read all of Mary Stewart's novels about King Arthur. Did you know that there is a Mary Stewart fan blog? I follow it. They have interesting things about the author and her works.

stacybuckeye said...

LOVED Bridge in the River Kwai and Schindler's List!

Susan said...

Dorothy, I understand your reluctance to watch it, but through all the despair that was the Holocaust, it is uplifting that there were people like this who did try to save others while risking their own lives.

Susan said...

Kaye, that's really cool! I'll definitely check it out, thanks!

Susan said...

Stacy, great movies never lose what made them great! Glad you enjoyed them!

Ruth said...

Liam Neeson is extraordinary, and Ralph Fiennes terrifying in that movie.

I don't think I could watch Saving Private Ryan again, so I get David's point. It is just so realistic.

Don's uncle fought in WWII and has never talked about his experiences. He can't. He was a bombadier and must have had some harrowing times. I don't think we've done justice to the terrors of that war. Movies so often glorified it and its causes. Maybe it's the last war we'll "admire"? But those who fought it didn't admire it, I think.

Yes, WWII movies are fascinating, and you picked some goodies.

Susan said...

Ruthie, yes, our last "popular" war by any measure. I've known quite a few veterans of that war, and few of them do want to reminisce about their experiences. The only person I knew who wanted to was my H.S. American History teacher. He and his twin brother fought in the same unit and when he (my teacher) received a head injury and was unconscious on the battlefield, his twin carried him for several miles to safety and medical care. Naturally he considered his brother a hero and he loved to tell us why we should honor all the heroes of that war. He spent a lot of time teaching about WWII and I guess that helped spark my great interest in it.

VaNeSsA said...

I am proud to say that I have seen all of the movies on your list and wholeheartedly agree except for two things: #1)The scene in The Longest Day in the dark with the soldier crying "Striker! Striker!" just stresses me out to no end; and my husband refuses to watch The Bridge Over the River Kwai with me again because the first (and only) time I watched it with him I started screaming "KILL HIM! KILL HIM!" at the television when Alec Guiness' character goes to save "his" bridge. Sorry Obi-Wan. I didn't mean it. I just got caught up. :)V

Susan said...

Wow, Vanessa! I didn't know you had blood sport in you!! :D

It's been a long time since I saw The Longest Day and I forgot about that scene. I'll have to watch it again.

I'm impressed! That's quite a roster for a young'un such as yourself!

prashant said...

I always recommend to watch because it is so very important. Great choices.

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