War comedies over the years

Over the years, the world of cinema has been drawing influences from various aspects of human nature. The cruelty and horrors of war has been one of the most profound influences on cinema. This led to the genre of war movies. Classics such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Full Metal Jacket”, “Saving Private Ryan” and many more have given us insights into the world of war and its fallout. This also led to the genre of war-comedies. If you cannot laugh at the troubles of the world, you might as well sit and weep.

 The world of Hollywood has given us many films of this genre. This year, Bollywood has decided to add to that with a war-comedy of its own, “War Chhod Naa Yaar.” 

There are many war-comedies which poke fun and cock-a-snook at this culture of war.

 For example:

The Great Dictator: Made in 1940, after the start of World War II, by the inimitable Charlie Chaplin. This movie was a first in a lot of ways. This was Charlie Chaplin’s first-ever talkie. As well as it was one of the first few films which caricaturised the rising menace of Hitler and Nazism. This film was smuggled into Nazi territories and watched, even shown to German troops by the resistance of the occupied Balkan territories. It has been said that even Hitler has seen this movie twice. However in his own words, Chaplin was noted to have said “I’d give anything to know what he thought of it”. This film has also one of the most poignant speeches ever delivered on film. 

 

Good Morning Vietnam: This movie looked into the world of radio and the part it played during the Vietnam War. Robin William’s portrayal of a radio jockey, who is transferred to Saigon, is one of his most suave and sophisticated performances. Set in the 1960s, the soundtrack as well as the music played in the film showcases the mood of the world during that time. The movie makes fun of the idea that the military knows what goes into humor and music programming as well as the notion that the higher-ups always know what’s best for the grunt on the ground. 

 

M*A*S*H* the movie: This movie was released in the 1970s at the height of the Vietnam War. Set in the 1950s about the Korean War, this film gave us a peek into the day-to-day lives and also hijinks of Army doctors while living at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The movie starred Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould. This movie spawned a TV series which lasted 11 years. The story takes the viewer through the horrors of war and the stresses of surgery. This was a film which captured the anti-Vietnam war sentiment and portrayed a very human view to the loss of life and needlessness of war. 

 

Kelly’s Heroes: Clint Eastwood stars in this film which is set up against the background of World War II. Along with Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas, the ensemble cast play a group of soldiers who go AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) and proceed to go on a bank heist. The soldiers have a tough time of it, getting shot at by German and American troops, strafed by aircraft, trips through minefields and even have a showdown with a tank. The film works because it’s a heist-caper set against a war and the bureaucracy of a war. 

 

Three Kings: In this film, we have one heartthrob, one underwear model who just started his film career and one rapper with amazing street cred who play 3 soldiers with different back stories and different goals. They all come together and decide on acquiring some missing Kuwaiti gold from the Iraqi forces. The movie is set during the 1991 Iraqi uprising at the end of the Persian Gulf War. The film starts as a heist and then changes tempo. It proceeds to show us about the value of the true victims of war. Not the soldiers on both sides but the civilians stuck in the middle.

There are many more films which look at the horrors of war and decide to make light of it. With that we come to what is Bollywood’s offering, “War Chhod Naa Yaar”. The film is classified as Indian Cinema’s first foray into the genre of war-comedy. This film offers a satirical point of view of the conditions of the armed forces of two countries engaged in war.
As Bertrand Russell said, “War does not determine who  is right- only who is left.”

By Aubrey D’Souza

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