Monday, 01 October 2007 |
It’s the year 480 B.C. The Persian empire has spread throughout Asia
and parts of Greece, gobbling up territory after territory in a quest
for imperial domination. King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) sends a
messenger and escort to King Leonidas of Sparta (Gerard Butler),
requesting that he make a token gesture that he will yield to the
empire’s mighty power and allow Sparta to become part of the empire and
relinquish his sovereignty. Leonidas responds by slaughtering the
messenger and his retinue and prepares for war. Unfortunately, the
important Carneian Festival is about to begin and the high-priests
(called Ephors) that the Spartans look to for guidance will not condone
the use of the military on a warlike action. Leonidas, finding a way to
circumvent their instructions gathers an army of 300, made up entirely
of his personal royal guards to venture to the coastline and there hold
off the Persian army at Thermopylae ...
Wednesday, 01 August 2007 |
“Letters from Iwo Jima” is, in one regard, unusual: it’s an American
film about a war in which the U.S. was involved, but told from the
“enemy” point of view. This has been done occasionally in the past, as
with the classic “All Quiet on the Western Front.” But this time, the
movie is entirely in the language of the other side, in this case,
Japanese. This is not unique—there have been American movies in
Spanish, Yiddish, even the created language Esperanto—but this time,
the film was made by a huge American studio, Warner Bros., and was
directed by a prominent American actor/director, Clint Eastwood (who
He was directing “Flags of Our Fathers,” which deals in large part with
the battle for the small but strategically important island of Iwo Jima
from the American point of view. But as he was preparing it, he began
to wonder about the other side. ...
Wednesday, 01 August 2007 |
The real Battle of the Bulge started on December 16, 1944 during one of
the coldest winters in France. Though the movie has the battle
beginning on that date, other than place names and a few names of
important military personnel, the movie version of the battle veers
widely astray of actual events.
In fact, Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a World War II veteran and past
President of the United States, took particular umbrage with the
movie’s presentation of the battle. Several historians have stepped in
and pointed out the various inaccuracies of the film. The German Tiger
Panzers seen in the film were actually American tanks made after World
War II. Likewise, the American tanks were ones that were used hardly at
all during the war.
Historical inaccuracy can be a burden to Hollywood—they’re after
excitement and thrills. While the battle took place in snow and mud,
the filmmakers didn’t want to try ...
Thursday, 01 March 2007 |
One of the most popular espionage subjects that originated in World War
II was the German Enigma machine. Using the device, the Germans were
able to send and receive coded messages without fear of the Allied
Forces being able to understand them. The Germans used codes in World
War I as well—most armies did—but the Enigma machine was cutting-edge
tech at the time. Where the first codes were based on language and
could be broken within hours, the Enigma machine created code based on
mathematical equations that resulted in days and weeks of code-breaking
skills. The time consumed was too large to allow the Allies any chance
at acting on the intelligence they gleaned from breaking the codes.
During World War II, especially in the North Atlantic area where the
German U-boats were wreaking havoc with the shipping lanes, cutting off
aid and supplies to Great Britain, opportunities arose to capture the
Monday, 01 January 2007 |
Anthony Swofford’s nonfiction book about his time of military service
as a United States Marine became a bestseller, speaking to a whole new
generation of warriors who had seen the horrors of the battlefield.
“Jarhead” was filled with cynicism and outrage about the way the war
was conducted as well as what the military personnel had to carry out.
After listening to several military men talking about their time in the
service, I quickly realized that Swofford’s objections weren’t unique.
Where Swofford’s book pulled the reader in and delivered a message,
though, “Jarhead” the movie lacks closure and depth to some degree. We
are introduced to individuals, young men in the United States Marines
who were trained to be fierce warriors who would make a difference
against Saddam Hussein, who was built up to near-monster status.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Anthony Swofford, the main protagonist and
first-person narrator. Gyllenhaal’s look is severe and ...