OPINION: Our obsession with war

Re-View, with Matt Murphy

War…what is it good for? Movies apparently.

So without being overtly political around Anzac Day, I thought it was time to delve briefly into our obsession with war movies. Why are we obsessed with them - well because 'we' are obsessed with war itself.

The IMDB website accounts for 22,719 'war' genre titles - the earliest circa 1898. So in the 117 years since the world has produced on average over 194 'war' feature films, television shows, short films, documentaries and other productions per year. Amazing.

War movies always seem relevant because there is always a conflict going on somewhere. And it appears Australia is no exception. While direct fighting on our shores (lets not get into localised terrorism) since Darwin in the Second World War, we have been actively involved in conflict somewhere - Korea/Vietnam/Kuwait/Timor/Iraq/Afghanistan - for a great many of these years since. It has been our link to powers of The United Kingdom and the USA that has brought us into these combats and therefore we feel a direct bond to the stories these countries tell.

Why are we so fascinated? Well, it varies. Of course with War as the saying goes - 'The winners write the history' and so many of these titles are propaganda, glorification or glamorisation of a particular conflict to sell their point of view or to be used as a recruitment tool. Some try to re-write history or promote a way of life. Most attempt to remove all the conjecture and portray good vs evil in its simplest form.

The greatest and most memorable films strive for something more. To try to understand. To try to understand the horror, the mistakes, the naivety, the purpose, the 'good intentions'. And what it does to people, to their mind, body and soul. Both to soldiers and their families, to civilians and the decision makers. And that we seem to learn nothing.

To show that War is all grey and nothing is black and white.

Five Memorable War Films

The Thin Red Line (1998)

Gallipoli (1981)

The Fog of War (Documentary - 2003)

Das Boot (1981)

Apocalypse Now (1979)


Matt Murphy is a Grafton film-buff with a background in screenwriting, video production and editing. Having tackled the rat race and city-life, he moved back to the Clarence where he lives surrounded by family and friends. 

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