The Movie Club

About Those War Movies
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 2 2007 6:58 PM

The Movie Club

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Comrades,

Just a quick note to expand on a point in my opening post: When I say I "don't like" war movies, it's a kind of polemical shorthand for a set of complex ambivalences about the genre. I'm not petulantly tossing aside all representations of mass conflict like some unfavorite flavor of ice cream, and I'm certainly not trying to skim over movies about war in order to focus on those with jollier subject matter. (Aside to Wesley: Children of Men doesn't strike me as a war movie, despite the climactic siege sequence. A road movie about a band of rebels, it seems too peripatetic, and insufficiently claustrophobic, to belong to the Spam-in-a-can tradition.)

Advertisement

A more precise way of stating the problem might be to say that a certain kind of war picture has become invisible to me, through some combination of the genre's ubiquitousness and its continuous upping of the visual-gore ante. Peering evermore closely into the foam-rubber (or, more likely, computer-generated) viscera of the latest exploding soldier is not helping me to understand or feel anything new about politics or patriotism or bravery or life, and I can't be the only one who feels that way. I wonder if the altered mental state this kind of war movie produces, and the subsequent relief upon stepping from the theater into the peaceful street, may be doing its part to render war itself invisible, however against the director's wish.

Of course, this could say as much about my own problems as those of the war movie. But isn't what we bring into the theater as important as what movies bring to us?

Yours,
Dana

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 22 2014 1:22 PM Is Arabic Really Just One Language? 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.