Empire of the Sun (1987), Director: Steven Spielberg, Running time: 153 minutes.
Roundly dismissed as one of Steven Spielberg's least successful efforts, this very underrated film poignantly follows the World War II adventures of young Jim, caught in the throes of the fall of China. What if you once had everything and lost it all in an afternoon? What if you were only 12? Bale's transformation, from pampered British ruling-class child to an imprisoned, desperate, nearly feral boy, is nothing short of stunning.
Winner of 9 Academy Awards(R) in 1996, including Best Picture, Best Director (Anthony Minghella) and Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), this powerful motion picture is an experience you will never forget. During World War II, a mysterious stranger (Ralph Fiennes) is cared for by American allies unaware of his dangerous past. Yet, as the mystery of his identity is revealed, an incredible tale of passion, intrigue, and adventure unfolds.
Every War Has Two Losers (2009, Director: Haydn Reiss, Running Time: 32 minutes
Every War Has Two Losers is based on the journals of poet and conscientious objector, William Stafford. Stafford refused to fight in World War Two as he believed that war was not the answer. The film draws from Staffords journals to present another point of view on warmaking and its ability to create security. For all those who think war is envitable, Stafford said 'No'. That war is a choice among choices and there are other methods of reconciliation to be pursued before the bullets fly. The DVD also includes a second film, 'William Stafford & Robert Bly: A Literary Friendship' (1994/60 mins). The film presents both writers in a lively and telling manner as they cover the subjects of writing, teaching and being an artist. --Zinc Films
The Execution of Private Slovik (1974), Director: Lamont Johnson, Running time: 122 minutes.
This made for TV film tells the story of Eddie Slovik, who was executed by the Army in 1945, the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the Civil War.
F.T.A. (1972), Director: Francine Parker, Running time: 97 minutes.
A documentary about a political troupe headed by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland which traveled to towns near military bases in the US in the early 1970s. The group put on shows called F.T.A., which stood for "F**k the Army", and was aimed at convincing soldiers to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time. Various singers, actors and other entertainers performed antiwar songs and skits during the show. (Written by Frank Fob for IMDb)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Director: Michael Moore, Running time: 122 minutes.
To anyone who truly understands what it means to be an American, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 should be seen as a triumph of patriotic freedom. Rarely has the First Amendment been exercised with such fervor and forthrightness of purpose: After subjecting himself to charges of factual errors in his gun-lobby exposé Bowling for Columbine, Moore armed himself with a platoon of reputable fact-checkers, an abundance of indisputable film and video footage, and his own ironically comedic sense of righteous indignation, with the singular intention of toppling the war-ravaged administration of President George W. Bush. It's the Bush presidency that Moore, with his provocative array of facts and figures, blames for corporate corruption, senseless death, unnecessary war, and political favoritism toward Osama Bin Laden's family and Saudi oil partners following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Moore's incendiary film earned Palme d'Or honors at Cannes and a predictable legion of detractors, but do yourself a favor: Ignore those who condemn the film without seeing it, and let the facts speak for themselves. By honoring American soldiers and the victims of 9/11 while condemning Bush's rationale for war in Iraq, Fahrenheit 9/11 may actually succeed in turning the tides of history. (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)
Fear and Desire (1953), Director: Stanley Kubrick, Running time: 68 minutes.
A fictitious war in an unidentified country provides the setting for this drama. Four soldiers survive the crash-landing of their plane to find themselves in a forest six miles behind enemy lines. The group, led by Lt. Corby, has a plan: They'll make their way to a nearby river, build a raft, and then, under cover of night, float back to friendly territory. Their plans for getting back safely are sidetracked by a young woman who stumbles across them as they hide in the woods, and by the nearby presence of an enemy general who one member of the group is determined to kill. (Written by Eugene Kim for IMDb)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Director: Clint Eastwood, Running time: 132 minutes.
February 1945. Even as victory in Europe was finally within reach, the war in the Pacific raged on. One of the most crucial and bloodiest battles of the war was the struggle for the island of Iwo Jima, which culminated with what would become one of the most iconic images in history: five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The inspiring photo capturing that moment became a symbol of victory to a nation that had grown weary of war and made instant heroes of the six American soldiers at the base of the flag, some of whom would die soon after, never knowing that they had been immortalized. But the surviving flag raisers had no interest in being held up as symbols and did not consider themselves heroes; they wanted only to stay on the front with their brothers in arms who were fighting and dying without fanfare or glory.
Fires on the Plain (1962), Director: Kon Ichikawa, Running time: 105 minutes.
Worthy to stand beside Kon Ichikawa's antiwar masterpiece The Burmese Harp, this chilling film focuses intensely on the brutality of war and man's unwavering passion for life. Separated from his unit at the close of World War II, a Japanese soldier encounters death, starvation, and cannibalism in a Philippine jungle.
Forbidden Games (1952), Director: René Clément, Running time: 85 minutes.
A timeless evocation of the loss of innocence, René Clément’s devastating Forbidden Games tells the story of a young orphan and her friend forced to fend for themselves in World War II France. Featuring brilliant performances from its child stars, the film won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and remains a singular, breathtaking cinematic achievement.
The Four Feathers (2002), Director: Shekhar Kapur, Running time: 130 minutes.
The seventh filming of A.E.W. Mason's classic 1902 novel, this near-epic production of The Four Feathers looks great, sounds great, and feels rather average. Kapur preserves the universal appeal of the story, set in the 1880s, in which a promising soldier (Heath Ledger) resigns on the eve of battle in Britain's Sudanese campaign, is labeled a coward by his fiancée (Kate Hudson), and redeems himself by posing as a Muslim warrior to rescue his best friend Jack (Wes Bentley) from certain death in the desert. For all its heroics, however, the film seems oddly passionless; Djimon Hounsou is excellent as Ledger's desert guardian, but these young Hollywood stars lack the authenticity of Zoltan Korda's 1939 film, which remains the definitive version. (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)
From Here to Eternity (1953), Director: Fred Zinnemann, Running time: 118 minutes.
Here's a model for adapting a novel into a movie. The bestseller by James Jones, a frank and hard-hitting look at military life, could not possibly be made into a film in 1953 without considerably altering its length and bold subject matter. Yet screenwriter Daniel Taradash and director Fred Zinnemann (both of whom won Oscars for their work) pared it down and cleaned it up, without losing the essential texture of Jones's tapestry. The setting is an army base in Hawaii in 1941. Montgomery Clift, in a superb performance, plays a bugler who refuses to fight for the company boxing team; he has reasons for giving up the sport. His refusal results in harsh treatment from the company commander, whose bored wife (Deborah Kerr) is having an affair with the tough-but-fair sergeant (Burt Lancaster). The supporting players are as good as the leads: Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed won Oscars (and Sinatra revitalized his entire career), and Ernest Borgnine entered the gallery of all-time movie villains, as the stockade sergeant who makes Sinatra miserable. Zinnemann's work is efficient but also evocative, capturing the time and place beautifully, the tropical breezes as well as the lazy prewar indulgence. This one is deservedly a classic. Robert Horton for Amazon.com)
Full Metal Jacket (1987), Director: Stanley Kubrick, Running Time: 116 Minutes.
Stanley Kubrick's 1987, penultimate film seemed to a lot of people to be contrived and out of touch with the '80s vogue for such intensely realistic portrayals of the Vietnam War as Platoon and The Deer Hunter. Certainly, Kubrick gave audiences plenty of reason to wonder why he made the film at all: essentially a two-part drama that begins on a Parris Island boot camp for rookie Marines and abruptly switches to Vietnam (actually shot on sound stages and locations near London), Full Metal Jacket comes across as a series of self-contained chapters in a story whose logical and thematic development is oblique at best. Then again, much the same was said about Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a masterwork both enthralled with and satiric about the future's role in the unfinished business of human evolution. In a way, Full Metal Jacket is the wholly grim counterpart of 2001. While the latter is a truly 1960s film, both wide-eyed and wary, about the intertwining of progress and isolation (ending in our redemption, finally, by death), Full Metal Jacket is a cynical, Reagan-era view of the 1960s' hunger for experience and consciousness that fulfilled itself in violence. Lee Ermey made film history as the Marine drill instructor whose ritualized debasement of men in the name of tribal uniformity creates its darkest angel in a murderous half-wit (Vincent D'Onofrio). Matthew Modine gives a smart and savvy performance as Private Joker, the clowning, military journalist who yearns to get away from the propaganda machine and know firsthand the horrific revelation of the front line. In Full Metal Jacket, depravity and fulfillment go hand in hand, and it's no wonder Kubrick kept his steely distance from the material to make the point. (Tom Keogh, Amazon)
Funf Letzte Tage (1982), Director: Percy Aldon, Running time: 112 minutes.
In Wittelbacherpalais, Munich's prison and Gestapo center, middle-aged Else Gebel awaits trial for carrying anti-Nazi material. She serves as a clerk in the Gestapo office. On Thursday, February 18, 1943, two youths arrive at the prison, arrested for carrying anti-Reich pamphlets and suspected of dropping leaflets from the university tower and painting anti-Hitler signs along Ludwigstraße: Sophie, 21, and her brother Hans, 24 and back from the Russian front. Sophie is housed with Else, and for five days, as Sophie is interrogated and charges brought, the women form a bond based on simple interactions: poetry, tea, shared clothing, courage, love of freedom, and a promise Else gives Sophie. (Written by J. Hailey for IMDb)