War movie discussion

I took part in an interesting studio discussion yesterday on BBC Radio Norfolk’s “Life’s Like That”. It was prompted by a piece in the Times about a movie director who maintained that films which glorified or trivialised war should be banned. A fascinating twist on the usual kind of argument about whether films show too much violence, he maintained that war movies should show the true horror of war.

My fellow guest in the studio was old enough (just) to remember World War Two bombers, and has had a distinct aversion to anything military ever since. So she wouldn’t tune in to any kind of TV programme or movie depicting war.

My approach was rather more pragmatic. War is (regrettably, of course) a part of the human condition. We should see war movies simply because they remind us what we ought to be trying to avoid rather than because they glorify it. And I wouldn’t condone excessive gratuitous violence – you can put the message across quite effectively without giving people nightmares.

And so I ended up with the much-bandied quote (even though I couldn’t think of the origin or exact form of words) “he who fails to learn from history is condemned to repeat it”.

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