What Makes a Good War Film?

There are a number of war films out at the moment, and I’m sure there will continue to be for decades to come. Given this, and sparked by the trailer release for Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of Dunkirk- Ordinary Author wants to share their opinion on what makes a good war film…

There are many types of war film- but every one must have at least some of the following:

Emotional Story:

Since the dawn of time, many war films have focused on the emotional side of war- choosing to place acting over action. This is also why in the past, some of the most successful war films have had the smallest budgets. That’s not to say that large budget films such as Saving Private Ryan haven’t contained these elements, whilst also having good action scenes. One example of a film that puts emotion over action is Private Peaceful, with most of it being set in rural England, and only a small amount of it taking place in the trenches. It follows two brothers, both rivals but ultimately brothers who love one another- and their journeys to the trenches of WWI.

Good Action:

Is there a difference between good action and bad action? Yes, definitely. Would you just film a bunch of explosions and put them in your film? Some people would, but unsurprisingly- their films haven’t taken off. Probably the best example of a good action scene is the iconic scene in Saving Private Ryan which saw troops exiting a boat out into war, and the door lowered. This scene has been recreated and paid tribute to in many films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It seems that good action scenes are iconic, not excessive. Dunkirk also looks to have some iconic scenes, with one harrowing scene of a hiding soilder being sniped in the eye featuring in the trailer- but we’ll have to wait and see…

How Will Nolan’s War Film Do?

Many people are wondering how the Director of Inception and The Dark Knight will manage in a war setting but let me say- I think he will do just great. It’s hard to put the same degree of flare into dialogue in sci fi movies that is needed in war films, but even so, Nolan manages to pack some iconic lines and moments into all of his films. Nothing could be more harrowing than watching your children grow up without you in a matter of seconds- but this iconic Interstellar scene captures the horror and emotion just perfectly. As for conflict, Nolan is not excessive with his conflict but shows he can definitely do it- see The Dark Knight Trilogy. 

In short- Dunkirk has every potential to be great. And I’m sure the appearance of Tom Hardy will never be unwelcome…

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