Friday, March 7, 2014

Six Instructive War Scenes

Something slightly different today.

Below are a few of my favorite war movie scenes. Under each video, I explain why I pick these in particular. My comments flow from my own research, my time as a student at King's and my conversations with friends who serve or have served in the military. Please note, I don't post these videos as a celebration of war- as I've written here and here, I subscribe to the notion that war is hell.

Midway - ''I want that fourth carrier''

Here, Nimitz illustrates why he was such a successful leader - his willingness to take risks in order to maximize the strategic impact of his battles. His intention was to eviscerate Japanese power-projection capabilities. By pursuing that object with aggression, he won an astounding victory at Midway.

Patton - ''Nuts''

In his rapid assault to relieve General McAuliffe's 101st Airborne, Patton hears that the surrounded American forces will not surrender. To me, in this event, both McAuliffe and Patton represent the best of the US Army's action in Europe. McAuliffe was able to apply a small group of highly skilled soldiers in defense of a critical strategic objective. At the same time, Patton's aggression gave him the confidence to rapidly take territory and move forwards against the enemy.

Zulu - ''Keep working''

Here, the British garrison at Rorke's Drift stand on the verge of a breakdown. Outnumbered by thousands of Zulu warriors and absent the prospect of support, the soldiers fear for their lives. Then, in the finest tradition of an NCO, Colour Sergeant Bourne steps forward to keep the men moving. His objective is clear - to maintain the sense of order and purpose that is critical to a military unit. He knows that he cannot let the men dwell on the predicament that they face.

Zulu - ''Rank!''

This scene illustrates the success of the British Army over the ages. Combining discipline, composure and professionalism, the heavily outnumbered force is able to repel a Zulu attack and win victory at Rorke's Drift.

Zulu - ''Officer Commanding''

The final scene of 'Zulu' provides a list of those decorated with Britain's highest military award at Rorke's Drift. Fittingly, Lieutenant Chard, the officer commanding, is given the last scene. The closing landscape, the shield and Chard's tired demeanor perfectly encapsulate the extraordinary responsibility of an officer. In the end, the officer must retain command and lead with confidence - Chard did that and saved his men.

The Longest Day - ''History''

This scene from the longest day is perhaps my favorite. In the context of history and politics, in one moment, it explains why the US was so instrumental to the allied victory in World War Two. The United States may not have had the history of art or culture that defined Europe, but what it did have was eminent courage and an unsurpassed ability to project power. That, and a sustaining belief in the cause of good against evil.

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