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Mike's
War Films of Note


Breaker Morant, 1980
Edward Woodward stars in this Oscar-nominated Aussie courtroom drama set in the Boer War. Based on a true story, it's a rousing anti-war polemic from the director of Driving Miss Daisy, Bruce Beresford. British Lieutenant Harry 'Breaker' Morant (Edward Woodward) is among a group of soldiers scapegoated for the shooting of a German missionary, committed under orders. Given just a single day to mount their defence, the fate of Morant and his men is sealed before the trial even begins. Woodward gives a dignified performance as the professional soldier caught up in this mess and, the film suggests, his loyalty to the Establishment makes him as much a victim as everyone else involved in the war.

Glory, 1989
While the American Civil War was fought to free slaves, it's ironic that heroic efforts of black yankee soldiers is often overlooked in accounts of the period. Glory seeks to address this, by telling the story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry - which was made up of black soldiers. Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Mathew Broderick are the stars in this splendid account of the heroism which changed perceptions of black soldiers. The battle scenes are astonishingly realistic and brutal, but it is the bravery of the men involved that lives longest in the memory.

Ride with the Devil, 1999
Set during the American Civil War, Ang Lee's superbly crafted film infuses new life into a well-known period by concentrating on the local battles and rivalries so that the confrontation is more personal and intense. This is not an abstract view of the divisions but a fiercely compassionate one, which charts a young boy's (Tobey Maguire) growth to manhood.

Ride with the Devil, 1999
Allan Dwan utilized authentic footage in the story of tough Marine Sergeant John Stryker (John Wayne), who bullies his recruits so that they'll be men, soldiers and alive at the end of the Pacific conflict against Japan. As the squad reached a bloody conflict on the island of Iwo Jima, the men come to respect and love their tough Sergeant.

Reach for the Sky, 1956
A film with all the clichés of heroism and overcoming disability, still leaves one with no doubt that Douglas Bader was a remarkable man. He had both his legs amputated after a flying accident in the early 30s and when war came, he flew for the RAF, being forced to bail out over Germany where he was taken prisoner, eventually placed in Colditz. This very British affair is made bearable by Kenneth More's humorous and inspiring portrayal of Bader. The moments that are particularly powerful are those in which he attempts to walk again with artificial legs.

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