Wars have played a momentous role in shaping the course of human history. The ever-present specter of conflict has made it an enduring topic of interest in popular culture, and many movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films, have sought to show the complexities and horrors of war on-screen.
In The Philosophy of War Films, David LaRocca compiles a series of essays by prominent scholars that examine the impact of representing war in film and the influence that cinematic images of battle have on human consciousness, belief, and action. The contributors explore a variety of topics, including the aesthetics of war as portrayed on-screen, the effect war has on personal identity, and the ethical problems presented by war.
Drawing upon analyses of iconic and critically acclaimed war films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), Rescue Dawn (2006), Restrepo (2010), and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), this volume's examination of the genre creates new ways of thinking about the philosophy of war. A fascinating look at the manner in which combat and its aftermath are depicted cinematically, The Philosophy of War Films is a timely and engaging read for any philosopher, filmmaker, reader, or viewer who desires a deeper understanding of war and its representation in popular culture.
Introduction: War Films and the Ineffability of WarWar and RepresentationWar Pictures: Digital Surveillance from Foreign Theater to Homeland Security FrontLenses into War: Digital Vérité in Iraq War FilmsBeyond Panopticism: The Biopolitical Labor of Surveillance and War in Contemporary FilmSeeing Soldiers, Seeing Persons: Wittgenstein, Film Theory, and Charlie Chaplin's Shoulder ArmsApocalypse Within: The War Epic as Crisis of Self-IdentityThe Violated Body: Affective Experience and Somatic Intensity in Zero Dark ThirtyAll in War with Time: Medium as Meditation in Sherman's MarchThe Power of Memory and the Memory of Power: Wars and Graves in Westerns and JidaigekiThe Ubiquitous Absence of the Enemy in Contemporary Israeli War FilmsGeneral Patton and Private Ryan: The Conflicting Reality of War and Films about WarThe Work of Art in the Age of Embedded Journalism: Fiction versus Depiction in Zero Dark ThirtyVernacular Metaphysics: On Terrence Malick's The Thin Red LineWar and Its Fictional Recovery on Screen: Narrative Management of Death in The Big Red One and The Thin Red LineProfoundly Unreconciled to Nature: Ecstatic Truth and the Humanistic Sublime in Werner Herzog's War Films
"LaRocca offers a synoptic anthology of essays that brings to our attention how war films can provoke contemplation and meditation because of the ways that such films inevitably focus on the mortality and vulnerability of human beings. The essays, written by an outstanding array of international scholars, work out various ways in which the genre can compel our thinking to become philosophical. This collection of essays constitute a significant contribution to not only the philosophy of the war film, but also to philosophy of film itself." -- Daniel Flory, Montana State University
"War is a pervasive condition, a constitutive part of human experience. The war film genre is extensive and multiform. It is no surprise, then, that war films are provocations to philosophical thought. This important and timely edited collection has an extensive introduction that seeks answers to vital questions: What sort of a phenomenon is a war film? What do we think we mean when we speak of a war film? What are war films for? Can war as such be represented by film? The essays that follow illuminate myriad ethical, aesthetic, epistemological and ontological issues as they related to a broad range of representations of war." -- Guy Westwell, Film Studies, Queen Mary University of London
"The philosophical reflections compiled in this book look at war films from a variety of perspectives. I commend editor David LaRocca for bringing together scholars who each, in different ways, engage the interdisciplinary mission of the inquiry into how war is depicted on screen. What is the philosophy of film, and then, of war films specifically? Do war films harbor a philosophy -- of death, violence, love - or does philosophy enrich the understanding of the cinematic of war? The Philosophy of War Films explores these questions and many more, connecting the reality of war with the art of filmmaking." -- Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam
"This volume offers rich and deeply thought-out consideration of the representation of war on film and of the ways filmic and now digital representation is deeply entangled with how we experience and think about war (up close or at a distance) in actual life. The book reaches back in film history but is especially provocative on war and its representation in the last decade -- the situation we are living with now. The essays are fresh and surprising, showing the whole subject of war and film to be far more interesting, complex, and disturbing than in the standard thinking about war genre films that we are used to." -- Charles Warren, Boston University
"The book offers multiple views of, as Kathryn Bigelow might put it, both the "microcosm" and the "macrocosm" of cinematic warfare, which may not always provide satisfying answers, but which certainly generates intriguing questions. Ultimately, this is what philosophy is about." -- Film-Philosophy
"David LaRocca's The Philosophy of War Films is a remarkable project that manages to skillfully cover the most pertinent issues in the field of war cinema. LaRocca's collection is thoughtfully structured, which makes it a substantial source as a whole as well as enables scholars to use each of four sections independently, as logically and thematically completed parts." -- War, Literature, and the Arts
"Meticulously examining an uncountable number of films, David LaRocca's collection of essays The Philosophy of War is a remarkable project that manages to skillfully cover the most pertinent issues in the field of war cinema. LaRocca's collection is thoughtfully structured, which makes it a substantial source as a whole as well as enables scholars to use each of four sections independently, as logically and thematically completed parts." -- War Literature and the Arts
"LaRocca makes many insightful observations, especially over the relation between the truth of war and the images of war on screen." -- Milwaukee Express
"Moviegoers who want to find meaning in their motion pictures -- reverently called "films" in this collection -- might enjoy surfing through the 15 scholarly essays." -- Military Times
"This self-explanatory volume, which represents another fine effort from the University Press of Kentucky's series of film books, is well-assembled by editor LaRocca and neatly divided into four distinct -- and distinctive -- categories." -- YES! Weekly
"These [essays] offer interesting insights on combat, warriors and veterans, and society at war as depicted on screen .some valuable observations in the book." -- NYMAS Review