Questions Help Evaluate War Films


This article originally appeared in Issue# 39

War films contain powerful images not only about war, but about our society and ourselves. Whether you see a film in the theater or at home on a VCR, these questions can help you, your family or discussion group evaluate your experience.

  1. What does the film say about what it means to be a male person? A female person?
  2. How are women presented? Are they foils for the male characters, victims or real people?
  3. Does the film present violence and aggression as the only way to solve problems?
  4. Is war presented as an exciting alternative to everyday life?
  5. What are the main characters fighting for? Does the film question their values, or just assume an unquestioning acquiescence to everything in society?
  6. Does the story really tell us what's bad about the "enemy?" Or are we expected to take their evil nature for granted?

In the year 2024 the most important thing which the cinema will have helped to accomplish will be that of eliminating from the face of the civilized world all armed conflict With the use of the universal language of moving pictures the true meaning of the brotherhood of man (sic) will have been established throughout the earth.

—D.W. Griffith, 1924