world war II's posts - English uPOST

Children in the Ruins Children in the Ruins

Among the many difficult jobs Allied forces faced after World War II was reuniting families separated by the Nazis. 1948's The Search is about the small children found in concentration camps and the efforts to find their parents, who were often dead. Shot on location in the ruins of post war Germany, there’s an…

The Wet Devastation The Wet Devastation

London’s East End in the aftermath of World War II was not an easy place to live in. In addition to physical damage to structures from the war there was also a persisting scarcity of resources. The 1948 film noir It Always Rains On Sunday captures some of this world in an almost incidental way, featuring some real…

The Precarious Noise The Precarious Noise

Saying just the right thing at just the right time can be dangerous. This is likely why Jean Renoir’s 1939 masterpiece, The Rules of the Game (La Règle du Jeu), was met with disgust at the time of its release despite on the surface being a relatively harmless drawing room comedy. But there are ways in which the film…

The Light of Isolation The Light of Isolation

One woman bears witness to a disintegrating male society in 1953's Anatahan, Josef von Sternberg’s final film. Filmed years before the publication of Lord of the Flies, this brilliant film about a small group of people stranded on an island shows the destructive potential in a breakdown of social order. There’s also…

On the War Clock On the War Clock

Hans Zimmer’s score for 2017's Dunkirk is clearly meant to evoke a ticking clock. Which is fitting since the film’s emphasis on time is second only to Memento in Christopher Nolan’s filmography. A surprisingly restrained film after the emotional effusion of Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk is a pleasant…

The World in a Tank The World in a Tank

A small group of soldiers from different nations and cultures work together to survive against Nazis in 1943's Sahara. Some of the soldiers have family or lovers back home but they’re led by Humphrey Bogart who says only about himself that he has no-one back home and he’s therefore less important. Of course that makes…

Humanity and Wire Fences Humanity and Wire Fences

My favourite era in filmmaking is in the first decades after World War II in Japan. Some of the greatest filmmakers of all time approached the complex feelings and conditions in the wake of defeat in a variety of effective ways. One of the most direct would be Masaki Kobayashi’s nearly ten hour film The Human Condition (人間の條件)

The Stories to Tell with Uneasy Allies The Stories to Tell with Uneasy Allies

I’m often surprised by the light-hearted attitude 1940s British comedies take towards World War II. A vivid example being 1946's I See a Dark Stranger, a comedy spy thriller about a naive Irishwoman who becomes a spy for Germany during the war. The film is a finely crafted enough comedy by Sidney Gilliat and Frank…

Be a Better Husband or a Better Wife in
the Royal Navy Be a Better Husband or a Better Wife in the Royal Navy

So you want a better life. Why not go to war? It’ll very likely improve both you and your spouse, or at least that’s the message in Alexander Korda’s 1945 wartime propaganda film Perfect Strangers (Vacation from Marriage in the U.S.), a message all the more insidious for the fact that it’s a pretty good movie with…

Into the Ambiguous Breach Into the Ambiguous Breach

There are a few reasons it seems strange that Winston Churchill wanted Laurence Olivier’s 1944 film version of Henry V as part of the propaganda effort for Britain. While it does feature the beautiful Saint Crispin’s Day, “band of brothers”, speech and features the English fighting in France, the motives for doing so…

Ella Muggins versus the Axis Ella Muggins versus the Axis

Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves, grab your bucket, and go assassinate Hitler yourself. That’s what cleaning woman Ella Muggins decides to do in 1944's Passport to Destiny when she finds her dead husband’s magic amulet in the attic. The only lead role for Elsa Lanchester in her entire career, I’ve been…

The Killings of Every Day The Killings of Every Day

Many filmmakers have endeavoured with varying degrees of success to convey the visceral feelings evoked by the experience of war from the point of view of a soldier. Director Samuel Fuller had an advantage over most in that he was actually a World War II veteran and his experiences inspired much of his 1980 film The…

All This in the Royal Navy All This in the Royal Navy

Ships may sink, spouses may die, but there’ll always be Britain. And that’s more than a small thing says 1942's In Which We Serve, a rather effective propaganda film from team Noel Coward and David Lean—but mostly Noel Coward as the opening credits make clear, telling us it’s a Noel Coward film, written by Noel…

Twice Non-existent Twice Non-existent

In 1943, the British dropped a cadaver in the ocean off the coast of Spain as part of Operation Mincemeat. Dressed as a fictitious soldier named William Martin, the cadaver carried forged correspondence which successfully misled the Axis powers as to the location of a planned British assault in the Mediterranean. In…

Brutal Occupiers are One Thing but
Sexual Indiscretions?   Brutal Occupiers are One Thing but Sexual Indiscretions?  

Was having sex the most dangerous thing you could do in Europe during World War II? In my inexpert opinion I would say no but that's the argument made by 1960's Five Branded Women, a film that attracted me with its impressive and unlikely cast but it has a story that's almost as interestingly absurd as an exploitation…

The Ghost of a Fighting Dream The Ghost of a Fighting Dream

Many challenges arise in the life of a girl who takes her first steps into womanhood. For example, her parents and supervisors may not understand her passion for creating rifle scope lenses as part of the effort to destroy America and Britain. Akira Kurosawa's 1944 propaganda film, The Most Beautiful (一番美しく), portrays…

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