Toplin, Robert Brent. “Hollywood’s D-Day form the Perspective of the 1960s and 1990s.” Why We Fought: America’s Wars in Film and History. Eds. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2008. 303-313. Print.
This is an essay comparing the difference between the 1960s WWII film The Longest Day and the 1990s WWII film Saving Private Ryan. The author looks at how two films addressing a similar subject were handled different on account of their era’s perceptions about war. The 1960s (height of the Cold War and so forth) is has a dramatically different outlook on war and Germany and soldiers than the 1990s did. This is big for my paper since I’m looking at public perception of two different wars in a single era. Some relevant quotes:
“Cinematic history from Hollywood is intriguing not only for its perspectives on the pas but also for what it says about the times in which the films were being produced” (303).
“In recent years [2000s], such movies’ [modern cinematic histories] primary contribution to historical appreciation relates to the audience’s emotional connection to another time, place and situation” (311).
Schubart, Rikke. “Storytelling for a Nation: Spielberg, Memory, and the Narration of War.” Politicotainment: Television’s Take on the Real. Ed. Kristina Riegert. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 2007. 267-287. Print.
The basic thesis of this essay is that each genre has a single specific theme that pervades every film within itself; for the war movie it “is the relation between history and nation” (267). The essay makes a lot of interesting commentary on how war films insert themselves into history and what sort of techniques they use to give themselves legitimacy, especially focused on this idea of eyewitnesses (as in, all of Generation Kill, all of Band of Brothers). There is the question of what is acceptable fact and what is acceptable fiction and how these films/shows are structured. There is also direct interaction with the show Band of Brothers, making this essay doubly useful for me in my paper! Some relevant quotes:
[While talking about the quote “When legend becomes fact, print the legend] “If “legend” stands for myth, then “fact” stands for historical facts. Ford’s [the speakers] point is not, I think, that myth is better than fact but rather that is in the union of fact and myth that we find the spirit of America” (269).
“Texts become recognizable genres when they tell stories that the members of society consider worth repeating again and again. The repeated viewing of genre films is a modern ritual where films function as myths anchoring the individuals of a society to its collective culture” (270).
“The war movie raises the question of the relationship between nation and history as a contemporary debate of “us” versus “them”” (271).
Randell, Karen. “Introduction to Part Two: The Body of the Soldier.” The War Body on Screen. Eds. Karen Randell and Sean Redmond. New York, NY: The continuum International Publishing Group Inc, 2008. 81-85. Print.
This is the introduction to the section of this collection of essays that all deal with the representation of the soldier’s body on screen. There’s just the one quote that I thought was useful, especially with its application to WWII (and, interestingly, its non-application to the Iraq War):
“The film engages with this image of supreme fighter and attempts to connect its audiences back to the stable image of World War II where “A group of men, led by a hear, undertake a mission that will accomplish an important military objective” (Basinger, 2005, 46)” (81).
Hagelin, Sarah. “Bleeding Bodies and Post-Cold War Politics: Saving Private Ryan and the Gender of Vulnerability.” The War Body on Screen. Eds. Karen Randell and Sean Redmond. New York, NY: The continuum International Publishing Group Inc, 2008. 102-119. Print.
The whole essay is about how war films gender vulnerability (skewing it female) and how Saving Private Ryan both fights with and subscribes to this idea. The issue of and differences in vulnerability in Band of Brothers and Generation Kill isn’t something I had considered examining, but it certainly seems worth looking at. What makes modern day soldiers vulnerable? What makes WWII soldiers vulnerable? Where do they mesh and where do they clash? Relevant quotes:
“Carpazo’s emotional vulnerability to the plight of a family in a war zone where the domestic space has been destroyed leads to this body being made vulnerable” (109).
“Where to kill is actually less important in this film [Saving Private Ryan] than how to die, and how the spectacle of male vulnerability affects the ethics of war” (111).
Chouliaraki, Lillie. “Spectacular Ethics: On the Television Footage of the Iraq War.” The Soft Power of War. Ed. Lillie Chouliaraki. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co, 2007. 129-144. Print.
This essay is more about what it means for news televisions to show footage of the Iraq War, but I think there are some ideas that apply to Generation Kill considering that it was a show about the Iraq War produced while the Iraq War was being fought. There are some thoughts about what television does as a voyeuristic medium that are worth pursuing as well as deeper analysis into basic components of news footage (multi-modality, as in image and verbal narration, space-time, as in perspectives we experience the footage from, and agency, who the figures of pity are). Some relevant quotes:
“The place to look for the pro-war bias in western television footage is not a behind-the-scenes co-ordination between government and journalists, but the assumptions already implicit in the routine professional choices that stage and narrate the war in television” (130).
“The quality of television as a ‘space of appearance’. The term ‘space of appearance’ seeks to define the public sphere of television not only as a space of language and deliberation, but also as a space of image and visibility” (131).
Haggith, Toby. “Realism, Historical Truth and the War Film: The Case of Saving Private Ryan.” Repicturing the Second World War: Representations in Film and Television. Ed. Michael Paris. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. 177-191. Print.
This essay again deals with the realism of Saving Private Ryan, but this time in comparison to the actual footage that was filmed by the Allied cameramen who landed on the beaches and the truth of war. The question of dramatic liberties comes up and the techniques Spielberg uses are analyzed. There’s something to be played with here in my essay, especially considering the Spielberg as an author had a big hand in Band of Brothers. I’m not sure how much of it applies to my comparison, but some ideas might be relevant.
Suid, Lawrence H. Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film 2nd Edition. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002. Print.
This is a monster of a book that deals with, more or less, every single war film up until the 2000s that creates the American military image. There’s a chapter on realism in Saving Private Ryan and the author more or less skewers Spielberg and the hype he created about the film and its realism, as well as his appropriation of scenes from other war films when contrasted against his denigration of those very same films. It’s an amusing read, but maybe not that relevant to my personal paper. Still, it does look at what happens when something is booked as “realism” or fact. In some ways, Band of Brothers was Spielberg’s response to those critiques, so reading the actual critiques might help.
I’m planning to look through interviews with the two shows’ creators and critic responses to the shows, but I haven’t done more than a small glance through what the search has turned up. Any help/commentary would be wonderful. Thanks!