The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#301 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:12 pm

Please do. Anyone reading this, so long as you can make a list of 50 favored war films, please submit a list even if you haven't been participating in discussion/new viewings this round

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Shrew
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#302 Post by Shrew » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:37 am

A couple of random recommendations before the end. People may not have time to check them out before the vote, but a) maybe they'll remind someone to fit something in, or b) you can always keep the thread going after. (FYI, I'm definitely sending in a list, but not till after Christmas. I don't understand all these people who send stuff in weeks ahead of time--that's valuable viewing time!)

J'accuse (Gance, 1919)- Not as inventive as later Gance, and the first two-thirds are mostly an awful provincial love triangle, but the war scenes are powerful (the image of the dead man, half-buried is particularly haunting, as are the various letters from soldiers) and the big twist at the end makes up for most of the film's earlier sins. It's also amusing how the phrase "J'accuse" keeps popping up in the oddest places (like a child's first French lesson), I suppose in an effort to prepare viewers for the gut-punch ending--it doesn't work. This will probably rank behind Napoleon on my list, which is a hell of war movie too, in addition to a hell of everything else too.

No Greater Glory (Borzage, 1934)- Man's Castle is the more famous of Borzage's hard-to-see Columbia features, but this one is also worth a look (and actually available via Warner Archives). A lonely kid joins up with a charismatic gang, who have their own uniforms and spend their days defending a flag in a junkheap from a rival gang. Not exactly a proper war film. However, it does explore how war, military fetishism, and macho masculinity are formed in childhood games of competition and the need to belong. It's similar to the recent I Declare War, but a lot smarter.

China Doll (Borzage, 1958)- Almost Borzage's last film, this doomed interracial romance has a lot of director's knack for smallness. Army pilot stationed in China drunkenly buys a girl, falls in love, has a kid, everyone gets killed by the Japanese. That the romance can play at all these days is a bit amazing, with its male protector/female servant gender politics and orientalism. However, the war aspects, like the crushing loneliness of the survivor/long-term soldier, the tension from going out on air missions, and the cruelty of the ending, are great, and help make what would be a supbar World of Suzie Wong into a genuine romantic tragedy.

Human Bullet (Okamoto, 1968)- I regret not getting around to seeing some of Okamoto's other (presumably more normal) war films, but if you can find Human Bullet, it's a must-see. In the late days of WWII, a young recruit tries to get through under-rationed training, leave in a bombed out city, and an awkward attempt to lose his virginity, only to be assigned to a sit in a bucket attached to a torpedo out in the ocean, waiting for an American ship to maybe come by. It gleefully points out the absurdity of Japan's military ethos in the face of imminent defeat while memorializing the human cost of young soldiers. Also features an armless Chishu Ryu taking a piss.

Les Carabiniers (Godard, 1963)- It's hard to justify voting for this in something like the 60's project when it's one of Godard's sloppier films and there's so much else to choose from. But as a war film, I think it's essential, even beyond the great treasures from the front sequence, because it seems a legitimate attempt to make an anti-war film that doesn't make war exciting. It doesn't always work, but it gets a lot of points for trying.

The Last Command (von Sternberg, 1928)- More drama/romance than war, but it's still a powerful critique of the Hollywood war machine.

The Stunt Man (1980, Rush)- Again, not an ordinary war film, but like The Last Command, a meta-commentary on the genre. It's probably a more justifiable inclusion than the Sternberg, even if it is the lesser film. If nothing else, the absurdity of the WWI film within the film is worth a lark.

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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#303 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:39 am

Four lists in. A clear frontrunner's emerged, and even saying the country would spoil what it is. So I'll say it's from the European continent. I do not want to turn into you know who, but there are some surprising high-profile titles completely absent from every list so far, and so I'm faced with what should be obvious inclusions becoming possible orphans from my own list (and for once not for films that no one else has seen or care about). I hope more lists rectify this or it's going to be a weird final product!

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#304 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:51 am

Wrap Up:

Directors with multiple entries on my list: The Archers, Steven Spielberg, Miklos Jansco, Roberto Rossellini

Difficulty of limiting myself to 50 titles: High

Number of likely orphans: Very high

Films watched for the project: 67

Films watched for the project that made my list: 7

Masterpieces that I forgot to include: Too many to list (I'm guessing)

The next ten on my list:

51. The Quiller Memorandum (Michael Anderson, 1966)
52. Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl, 1938)
53. Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook, 1963)
54. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
55. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
56. Berlin Express (Jacques Tourneur, 1948)
57. Spook Who Sat by the Door (Ivan Dixon, 1973)
58. Fixed Bayonets! (Samuel Fuller, 1951)
59. Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
60. The Major and the Minor (Billy Wilder, 1941)

Abstract concept that still confuses me: What counts as a war film.

Countries represented on my list:

Czechoslovakia: 3
France: 5
Hungary: 2
Italy: 2
Japan: 4
Poland: 2
UK: 9
US: 21
USSR: 1
West Germany: 1

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#305 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:57 am

domino harvey wrote:Four lists in. A clear frontrunner's emerged, and even saying the country would spoil what it is. So I'll say it's from the European continent.
Yes, my number one pick Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS will come out on top!

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#306 Post by knives » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:30 pm

For a last minute recommendation (and what got The Last Command off my list) I really want to recommend Ida's Pawel Pawlekowski's Serbian Epics which can be seen legally here. It's a short and amazing watch skipping the battles and even a lot of the suffering of war to show the rare side of the bureaucracy. From weird UN meetings and trying to deny human rights violations it manages to weave a tale simultaneously terrifying and humourous.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#307 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:44 pm

domino harvey wrote:Four lists in. A clear frontrunner's emerged, and even saying the country would spoil what it is. So I'll say it's from the European continent. I do not want to turn into you know who, but there are some surprising high-profile titles completely absent from every list so far, and so I'm faced with what should be obvious inclusions becoming possible orphans from my own list (and for once not for films that no one else has seen or care about). I hope more lists rectify this or it's going to be a weird final product!
Weird is good!

(And I think I know what the frontrunner is and it's a film I didn't vote for.)

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#308 Post by swo17 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:47 pm

I guess Battle of Algiers.

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zedz
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#309 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:01 pm

swo17 wrote:I guess Battle of Algiers.
Though revealing the country of origin in that case (Italy, since domino identified it as European, not North African) wouldn't necessarily give the game away, since Rossellini's war trilogy will presumably also be 'obvious' front runners.

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zedz
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#310 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:29 pm

It certainly wasn't hard to find films to fill my list, and consequently didn't do any targetted watching specifically for this project. I tried to avoid duplicating directors, but five were unavoidable: one French, one German, one Russian, one Hungarian and one English. The latter is the only director that ended up with three films on my list, but it's Humphrey Jennings, so you're lucky I didn't include half a dozen of his wonderful films.

In terms of countries represented, I had fourteen. In diminishing and alphabetical order:
USA, UK, France, Japan, USSR / Russia (2 from the USSR; 3 from Russia), Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, Korea (South), India, The Netherlands, Romania.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#311 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:36 pm

I feel guilty about it because I haven't participated in this project hardly at all, but I'm going to wind up submitting a list- and going through my watches, my collection, and things that popped up in this thread that I had seen, it was really remarkably easy to put a list together, without really stretching a lot (by my lights, at least) and with having enough potential entrants that even the bottom ten were heavily contested. For my part, I'm finding that a lot of mine are more about events leading up to a war, the immediate aftermath of the war, or smaller happenings within or parallel to a war than outright combat- is that just me?

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#312 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:06 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:I feel guilty about it because I haven't participated in this project hardly at all, but I'm going to wind up submitting a list- and going through my watches, my collection, and things that popped up in this thread that I had seen, it was really remarkably easy to put a list together, without really stretching a lot (by my lights, at least) and with having enough potential entrants that even the bottom ten were heavily contested. For my part, I'm finding that a lot of mine are more about events leading up to a war, the immediate aftermath of the war, or smaller happenings within or parallel to a war than outright combat- is that just me?
Me too. Only eleven of the films on my list really have much to do with combat, and that's stretching it to include films that are trying like hell not to be combat films (like The Thin Red Line and Overlord), films in which the protagonists are trying like hell to avoid combat (like Objective: Burma!) or films in which 'combat' is an amorphous, elusive and problematic concept (like Generation Kill).

By way of contrast, I reckon I have thirteen films about the home front / resistance; seven about living / surviving in a war zone (there's some grey area between those two subgenres); four about prisoners of war; and three about soldiers' downtime.

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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#313 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:18 pm

Five lists in now not including mine. If you really want to twist your brains, I can tell you the aforementioned frontrunner has appeared on every list so far but will not appear on mine-- this isn't that helpful a clue, though, as I've praised it on the board. Also, so far no one's number one pick is an Orphan

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#314 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:22 pm

domino harvey wrote:Five lists in now not including mine. If you really want to twist your brains, I can tell you the aforementioned frontrunner has appeared on every list so far but will not appear on mine-- this isn't that helpful a clue, though, as I've praised it on the board.
Well that blows my candidate (Come and See) out of the water. My next choice would be Army of Shadows, I guess, but I don't think it's the most obvious French option (which would be La Grande Illusion, surely).

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#315 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:27 pm

I had intended to participate in this thread, but then got sidetracked by my quest to work my way through my Criterion kevyip. Thankfully there are enough war films in the Collection to enable me to put together a list of 70 or 80 war films that I've liked, so I'm hoping to get a list together before going home for the holidays. I'm afraid it will be a rather boring list, but hopefully it'll help keep some conventional titles from being orphaned. This is my first time putting together a list like this, though, and figuring out rankings is proving to be a challenge- how do you even come up with a system to compare things as disparate as Ran, Battleship Potemkin, and To Be or Not To Be?

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#316 Post by knives » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:34 pm

I like A more than B so I'll list A ahead of B for the most part.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#317 Post by swo17 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:41 pm

I'm thinking now that the country might be Sweden...

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#318 Post by YnEoS » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:34 pm

I tried throwing a list together a earlier and couldn't get a solid 50, but now that I'm getting some hints of what people are picking, I think I'm seeing lots of films that didn't make my list because I thought, "well I guess this film has to do with war, but is this really exemplary of the war film genre?". So I may give a second try and see what I come up with.
jindianajonz wrote:I had intended to participate in this thread, but then got sidetracked by my quest to work my way through my Criterion kevyip. Thankfully there are enough war films in the Collection to enable me to put together a list of 70 or 80 war films that I've liked, so I'm hoping to get a list together before going home for the holidays. I'm afraid it will be a rather boring list, but hopefully it'll help keep some conventional titles from being orphaned. This is my first time putting together a list like this, though, and figuring out rankings is proving to be a challenge- how do you even come up with a system to compare things as disparate as Ran, Battleship Potemkin, and To Be or Not To Be?
Since 1 or 2 place differences doesn't matter a lot, I like to split the 50 into several smaller groups along the lines of...

(1-5), (6-10), (11-15), (16-20), (21-30) (31-40) (41-50)

Then within each group I don't worry too much and the order is semi arbitrary, but then it's easier to think in terms of "this group of film will get almost 50 points each" or "this group of films will get less than 10". Obviously though you have to think a lot about what goes in the #1 and #50 slot.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#319 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:36 pm

swo17 wrote:I'm thinking now that the country might be Sweden...
Sorry, but there were no Swedes on my list.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#320 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:44 pm

zedz wrote:Well that blows my candidate (Come and See) out of the water. My next choice would be Army of Shadows, I guess, but I don't think it's the most obvious French option (which would be La Grande Illusion, surely).
I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot both when compiling my list, so neither can be what he's referencing. I think that the previously guessed Battle of Algiers is a very good guess. Perhaps it might be Shoah, which I previously placed atop the 80s and Documentaries lists, so it ought to come as little surprise that I voted for it here as well.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#321 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:49 pm

swo17 wrote:I'm thinking now that the country might be Sweden...
It isn't Sweden, since I didn't have any Swedish films on my list. Unless domino is using psychological tactics he learnt from Captured on us.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#322 Post by knives » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:55 pm

I don't believe he got to that particular how to behave as a POW film.

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#323 Post by repeat » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:03 am

I don't have the time to put together a list, but for what it's worth here's a bunch of personal favorites that haven't been mentioned yet

Outskirts (Boris Barnet, 1933): Been a long time since I saw this, but remember being quite impressed by the depictions of trench warfare and Barnet's typical erratic shifts of tone.

Zwischen gestern und morgen (Harald Braun, 1947): No onscreen military action here, but if people are going to vote for The Grand Budapest Hotel then certainly this deserves a mention as well; one of the quintessential German "rubble films", and also a quintessential hotel film!

I Was Nineteen (Ich war neunzehn, Konrad Wolf, 1968): Wolf's autobiographical masterpiece about a German boy raised in Moscow returning to his homeland as a Red Army commandant. Absolutely essential viewing.

Hell in the Pacific (John Boorman, 1968): Do people not like this film, or has it just not come up yet? Recommended with no subtitles and the original ending!

No Path Through Fire (V ogne broda net, Gleb Panfilov, 1968): Beautiful story of lives torn by the Russian civil war, by a sorely underrated (or just unknown?) master of Soviet cinema.

The Last Train (Le Train, Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1973): One of Jean-Louis Trintignant's lesser known films, this is a solid adaptation of Simenon's WWII story by the perpetually underrated Granier-Deferre.

The Bridge at Remagen (John Guillermin, 1969): A tough, cynical combat film that wouldn't look out of place in the company of Aldrich's WW2 films (a propos, where is Too Late the Hero? Can't list it here as I haven't seen it yet, but by its good reputation I would've expected it to have popped up already)

La France (Serge Bozon, 2006): There's much better writing on this film to be found than what I can come up with (not least by Bozon himself) - suffice it to say that it's moving, funny, totally original, and most definitely a war film (at least as much as Objective, Burma! as defined above by zedz)

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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#324 Post by domino harvey » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:27 am

Eight lists now submitted, not including mine. Frontrunner has unbelievably still appeared on every list (except mine, still, but now I'm feeling like I'm stopping a clean sweep even though I don't quite like it enough to make my fifty), so you can all discuss amongst yourself which movie could possibly unite the entire forum in such a fashion

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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#325 Post by swo17 » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:29 am

Diamonds of the Night?

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