War heroes

War heroes

Melanie and I have been discussing movies lately, including movies that present good, honest characters who exhibit strong values, movies that embody the Christian Truths. And then tonight my friend Dave recommended a movie that he thinks embodies those characteristics, called “To End All Wars”. It’s a war movie about WWII, British prisoners of the Japanese, the Railway of Death, self-sacrifice, and honor. 

Melanie and I both came to the conclusion that one of the few places where you can find movie characters that really do embody those Christian values and truths is in war movies. Certainly not all war movies. The recent “Jarheads” is an example. But I think of movies like Mel Gibson’s “We Were Soldiers”, Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson’s “K-19 – The Widowmaker”, Nicholas Cage’s “Windtalkers”, and Tom Berenger’s “One Man’s Hero” come to mind off the top of my head.

There is something about portraying men at war (or preparing for war) that embodies the concepts of honor and truth and self-sacrifice, and brotherly love and so much more.

Can anyone think of other movies that fit this trend?

Update: Melanie wants me to add that her point was more specific related to the depiction of faith. She has found that it is only in war movies today that the expression of faith is honored. In most movies and TV shows (viz. the recent CSI episode) people of faith are either nutjobs or cynical hypocrites. But it is in war movies where you find (mostly) men who express their faith in an honest and open fashion that is not ridiculed by the filmmakers.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • U-571, A Bridge too Far, The Longest Day, The Great Escape, Saving Private Ryan, the dirty dozen, Serenity (not really a war movie, but really really really good!), and strange as it may sound Starship Troopers. And of course, all three Lord of the Ring movies!

    Yours in Christ,

  • Couple of oldies from the ‘40s:
    “The Fighting 69th” with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien.  Definitely a “no-bushel-baskets-around-here Catholic film with O’Brien portraying Chaplain Fr. Duffy.
    “Sergeant York” starring Gary Cooper in the title role.

    More recent movies set in the Civil War that fit the bill are “Glory” and “Gettysburg”.

  • Seamole, I haven’t seen Thin Red Line since it was in the theaters, so my memory is pretty spotty, but it was in my list of possibles.

    Like Dom said, my point isn’t necessarily that the film itself embodies Christian values as that the characters are allowed to express their faith in a way that is honest, unambiguous, and not undercut by other characters or by the narrative itself. It might be a very minor point in the film as a whole, but it is a part of the characterization that is allowed to simply be. This especially struck me in K19 when Harrison Ford, the captain who thus far has talked a straight party-line blesses the men he is sending to an almost certain death in the reactor. It was surprising, a detail that did not seem to fit with the rest of his character and would have been easy to delete or discard. It was a grace note rather than integral to the movie and thus I treasured it all the more.

    Same thing with a character in Windtalkers who prays the Hail Mary on his deathbed. It was a detail more integral to his character, there was a disussion earlier that implied he’d been raised Catholic and had fallen away from his faith; but the inclusion of the prayer was not necessary to the story arc and could have been easily left out.

    My question is why are war movies the acceptable exception to the general Hollywood dictum that religion is verboten unless severely undermined?