Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neesom. Directed by Ridley Scott. I was eager to see this movie until I saw R.Scott interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show (5/9/05). He said that the theme of the movie is tolerance. It is not historically accurate, he also said. The Crusaders are make out to be the bad guys and the Muslims are noble. If one wants a vivid description of the brutalilty of the Crusades, both Roman Catholics and Muslims, DEUS LO VOLT by Evan S. Connell is an accurate historical fiction, or THE CRUSADES by Riley-Smith for a reliable historical treatment of the subject. Yes, many of the things the crusaders did were reprehensible, but has Scott forgotten what the Muslim hordes did for 500 years leading up to the First Crusade? Read the history of their slaughter of Jews and Christians across North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans until they were stopped at Tours and the gates of Venice. Now there is another invasion of Europe and England by Muslims and they are winning. Within a century these countries could be Muslim nations because the populations have rejected Christianity, the only truth system that can stand against radical Muslims. My fear is that the West will wake up to the threat of Islam too late. We have an enemy within and no politician wants to sound the alarm. It is Political Correctness that has driven Ridley Scott to make this film. I have read too much of Muslim history to sit through this tripe. The film should be boycotted by Christians. If the producers lost millions they would not come out again with such propoganda for Islam.
Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. The story of two cowboys in their later years who are still grazing cattle on the open prairie. It is the late 1880s and the range is being fenced off by large land owners. When evil men kill one of the drovers, Costner and Duvall take quick and drastic action. This is a classic Western when men were men and swift justice was the order of the day. Annette Bening plays the part of a women who is willing to help, and one of these characters falls in love and leaves the cattle to marry her. People today long for swift justice because there is little or none in our judicial system. William Faulker made a politically incorrect statement in the 50s when he said, "The mob is right as often as the jury." A feel good movie.
The Gladiator with Russell Crow is a good historical portral of the gladiators who fought in the arenas. It also shows the brutality of Roman power and the blood thirst of that society. All history buffs will enjoy the realism in the film. Christians will benefit by seeing what the early church had to facd in the Roman governments hostility to Christianity.
Master and Commander with Russell Crow as the captain of a British Man-of-War after a French warship that has ravaged British shipping in the south seas. A film about courage and what it means to be a leader of men. Based on a true story. The second in command portrays a true Christian. Excellent acting and beautiful scenery. A man's movie, but some women might enjoy it.
The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise playing the part of an American military officer who has psychological problems due his part in the slaughter of the Plains Indians (c.1880s). He is recruited by the Japanese to come and teach them the art of Western warfare (moderning their army). Because he sees the same thing happening to the Samurai culture that happened to the Plains Indianns, he changes sides. Much of the story is about how he has to condition his mind to become a Samurai. This film provides a good glimpse into the Japanese honor code of the Samurai warrior. A good love story happens while he prepares his combat skills with the sword. Another film that historians will enjoy.
Behind the Lines is a story of the psychiatric treatment of British soldiers who broke during combat on the Western front during WW1. They are sent to a castle in Scotland where a staff of psychiatrists are to cure them so that they can return to battle. The men are officers who are educated enough to articulate the insanity of war. The focus is on one psychiatrist and two patients who reverse the roles during therapy, in that, they have a more persuaive argument against war than the psychiatrist does for it. This is a well done story and presents a perspective on war that most do not want to hear. View it for an expansion of thought.
We Were Soliers Once, and Young with Mel Gibson. The film is based on a true account as related in the book of Col.Hal Moore. The summer of 65 the 1st Air Cav arrived in Vietnam. In early Nov. Col.Hal Moore's battalion encounters a North Vietnamese unit and is almost whipped out. He was on the set to advise the director to keep the story accurate. The book tells the rest of the story for those who want to know the details. I was drawn to this book because this was my generation. While these men fought, I was sitting in an air conditioned classroom in seminary, deferred because I was a ministerial student. My first cousin was in the 1st Air Cav and was wounded five days before this battle. When he woke up in the hospital in Hawaii, the wounded men from the battle were on his unit. Only five men in his company survived. He gave me a first hand account of his combat experience. The film and the book bring some needed balance to our understanding of why we lost the war. It was not lost by the military, but by our lying politicians (LBJ and McNamara). Read STEEL MY SOLDIER'S HEARTS, by Col. David Hackworth to get another realistic picture of what the soldiers went through in Vietnam. Warning: this book has raw military language but it is very informative.
Windtalkers with Nicolas Cage. Based on true events of Navaho Indians using their language in code to confuse the Japanese during the battle of Saipan in the South Pacific. Contains the most graphic battle scenes of any war movie. The dilemma faced by the officer assigned to protect the code talker provides an opportunity for ethical debate. Definitely a man's flick. Every film like this causes me to admire the men who fought WW2. My wife and I visited the D-Day Museum in New Orleans this summer, and one of the displays tells about these Navaho code talkers.
K-19 Widowmaker with Harrison Ford. This is the true story of the first nuclear, missle launching sub put into service by the Soviets in 1961. Because they wanted to convince the US military of their nuclear strike capability, they sent the ship to sea without a shakedown cruise. The tension in the story is between the captain (Ford) and a co-captain (Liam Neesom). Who will the men follow when the nuclear reactor begins leaking and endangers the lives of the crewmen? An on the edge of your seat movie. Different styles of leadership are worth noting.
Enemy At The Gates is a true story of two snipers during the battle of Stalingrad. This was probably the most costly battle for the Germans and the Russians of any battle in WW2. It also has a love story to keep the women interested. Realistic battle scenes and very good acting and photography.
The Majestic with Jim Carrie is about a small town in California which has lost many of its young men in WW2. Carrie, who plays a business man who is tired of the hassle, takes a drive in the country and has a wreck, developing amnesia. He wanders into this small town and they take him for one of their own, whom they believed dead, and celebrate his homecoming. This movie is high on sentimentality, but my wife and I liked it because it was optimistic about life. No sex or violence. Just a good clean movie that makes you feel good when you leave. We do need this occasionally, even if it is escapist.
The Patriot with Mel Gibson. Story is set in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. Gibson plays the part of a Southern planter who does not want the war, but will fight if it comes. And believe me, does he ever fight. Action packed combat. Very much like BRAVE HEART. An inspiring film.
The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis. This is a fantastic adventure film based on the James Finemore Cooper story. The slaughter of the English by the Indians as they leave the fort is a gruesome scene. Clear moral lines of right and wrong are drawn several times. The virtue of heroism is the overriding theme. This movie shows what the settlers of this land faced and provides a good history lesson.
Brave Heart Mel Gibson plays the part of William Wallace, the Scottish patriot who led a revolt against England in the 1200s. Very inspiring in its concept of freedom but powerful in its treatment of political intrigue and corruption.
Sergeant York Gary Cooper stars in this true story of Sgt.Alvin York, a hero of WWI. He struggled with conscience about killing others. His preacher, played by Walter Brennan, helps him work through this issue. He used his turkey hunting skills developed as a young boy in East Tennessee to pick off the German soldiers. Amazing courage and skill with a rife made him the hero of WWI. A classic story and very uplifting.
Seven Years in Tibet A true story of a German mountain climbing team who goes to India in '39 to prove German atheletes are superior. India, of course, was ruled by England at the time. When WW2 broke out, the German mountain climbers were detained in a prison camp. After a year several of them escaped and went over the Himalayas into Tibet. Brad Pitt plays the role of the German who taught the Dali Lama about the modern world for seven years, then the Communist Chinese conquered Tibet and destroyed the Buddhist monasteries. I add this film because the Dali Lama is becoming very popular. Richard Gere is promoting the Dali's books and speaking tour. Many Americans seem to be attracted to him, and a movie like this adds to it. After seeing the movie and reading several of the Dali's books, I have decided to become a follower when he dies for my sins and rises from the dead to prove he can give me eternal life. Think about it.
Apocalpyse Now Another account of the dark side of the Vietnam War. It is taken from Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, which deals with the evil that is in man. Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall play their parts well. This film, more than any other, shows the insanity of war.
Paradise Road is a true story of nurses from the US, Britain, and Australia who are in a Japanese prison camp in Burma during WW2, and what they do (form a choir to sing classical music from memory) to survive. These were courageous women and it is thrilling to see how they overcome their captors with gentleness and class.
Love and War Another true story of Hemingway as a young reporter who goes to war and is wounded when he saves the life of a soldier and receives a metal. In the process he is wounded and stays in the hospital several weeks. While there he falls in love with a nurse. He returns to the states and hopes that she will join him, but you must watch it to learn the outcome. This nurse died recently.
Saving Private Ryan Based on a true story of a soldier who had two brothers killed in WW2 and a group of soldiers having to bring the remaining brother out of the Normandy invasion. This movie will twist your insides more than any war movie made. It will be a classic. Every high school student ought to be required to see this.
Thin Red Line is by author James Jones, who uses his own experience of combat in WW2 for the story. An account of an army group clearing the jungle on Guadalcanal. The only movie I've seen that presents the Japanese side of the battle. Stream of consciousness is used to show the horror of war for the soldier who can still think. This is an art film that should be viewed 3 or 4 times to grasp all that it is saying.
Das Boot The classic German film (subtitled) about the U-boats in the battle of the North Atlantic during WW2. Sheer terror at depth charge is vividly shown.
Stalingrad A recent release by the same director who did Das Boot. I read the definitive work this summer on the battle of Stanlingrad. This movie captures the essence of that horrible experience. A must see for those like to study how human's behave during war conditions.
Heaven's Gate This is one of my top five movies. It cost over 100 million to make but was never shown in theaters because the public would not like the ending. The producer refused to change it. This is a true account of the Johnson county war in Wyoming in 1890 where the cattlemen killed immigrants over land. Kris Kristofferson is the U.S.Marshal. The story covers 30 years of his life. Notice the change in the marshal from college graduation optimism to the end when he is in despair on the boat with his wife.
Pale Rider A young girl prays for someone to come and stop the killing of her people who are panning for gold. Clint Eastwood is an avenging angel who comes to do justice.
Unforgiven Clint Eastwood is a former gunfighter who has children from a wife who has died, and has settled down as a farmer. He takes a job to kill some cowboys who cut up several prostitutes in a small town. The theme of this movie, believe it or not, is anti-violence.
Shane The classic story with Alan Ladd. He helps a ranch family stand up to outlaws who are trying to take their land. A strong sense of right and wrong.
High Noon Another classic with Gary Cooper who plays the sheriff that stands alone against over whelming odds to clear a town of outlaws. A lesson of doing what is right, no matter whether others stand with you or not, is taught.
The Missing with Tommy Lee Jones and Kate Blanchet. Filmed in remote New Mexico. A story of the struggle between good and evil. A renegade Apache and Jone's character (who lived with the Indians) are in a life and death struggle when his grand-daughter is taken by the Apache. Jones tracks them down and the confrontation unfolds. Christianity is shown to have more power than the Devil. Very intense. Excellent acting and beautiful scenery.
Dances with Wolves An epic account of how the American Indians were mistreated by U.S.Government in the 1870s. A beautiful and sensitive story.
Legends of the Fall Takes place in Montana after the Indian Wars. A father raises three sons, who are very different from one another, to have integrity. It deals with the interfamily conflicts as well as the family's conflict with corrupt local officials. Justice again is the theme.
Grey Owl with Pierce Brosnan. A true story set in the Canadian Rockies in the 1930s. He is a fur trapper who lives in the wilderness like an Indian. A woman comes to interview him. He is trying to save the Indian way of life. During her time with him she learns a secret that would destroy his influence.
Far and Away A realistic account of the struggle of the Irish coming to America in the 1840s. Well written and well acted. Poor boy wins rich girl against her parent's wishes and they struggle they have to make it on the frontier. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in what I consider their best roles.
The following three movies focus on the concentration camp victims and their struggle to survive. Shindler's List A true story of a German industrialist who uses the Jews to make a profit, then realizes they are being put to death. He rescues 900+ Jews by standing against authorities by claiming he needed them in his factor. Unforgetable. Should be required viewing in every college history course. The Truce Another true story of an Italian Jew who survives the concentration camp. With everything destroyed chaos reigned in Europe. The survivors of the CCs had to get home on their own means. Many walked, rode trains, boats, only to find their homes and families gone. A well done film and a powerful story. Inspiring in many parts. Life is Beautiful An Italian film that shows how humor was used by one family to survive the horrors of the concentration camp. This is a love story as well as a story of the lengths a father will go to in protecting his young son.