Monday, 19 November 2007

War Films Macro analysis: genre and narrative

"The Great Escape" (1963) belongs to the prisoner of war sub genre of war films.
Identify its narrative elements: what the story is about and how narrative conventions are raised within such a narrative; for instance, escape committees, tunnels, various types of men, a distinguished leader who stands apart from the rest of the men, the representation of the Germans officers and guards, the mise-en-scene of watchtowers, barbed wire and searchlights, etc.

Another type of war film within this genre is the combat war film.

Establish what the main narrative of this film is about.(Sum up the main story). Then establish the narrative conventions that underpins this narrative: for instance, the non-linear narrative as the action takes place through the eyes of the old combatant (Ryan). The beach landings and combat on the beaches, the unseen enemy, the mission, losing men on the mission, letters, mistaken identity, the use of dog tags, the idea of sacrifice, heroism, cowardice, the desire go home, etc. Find others.

From a more unusual perspective (that of the Japanese) Clint Eastwood's combat film shares many of the same narrative conventions as that of Speiberg's "Saving Private Ryan". The convention of beginning in the present and going back in time is shared along with the desire to go home, sacrifice, letters, various types of men, a distinguished leader, the last stand, cowardice, etc. Conventions often found in war films but not in "Saving Private Ryan" are the training/preparation sequence, flashbacks by the soldiers of their lives back home, etc.

For your macro study you need to focus on a fifteen minute sequence from a film. Good places to find them are at the beginning, middle or end of a film. Endings are always good hunting grounds for sequences useful for writing essays. Remember that you can use two films and select a seven minute extract from each to help you construct your macro essay.

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