Monday, December 28, 2009
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.