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Maciamo
13-08-07, 12:10
If you compare the main films about WWII from different countries, you will be surprised to see the huge differences in perceptions and style across the cultures.

Whereas US movies are always serious, dramatic, and even tragic at times (from Saving Private Ryan to Schindler's List), French films about WWII are just the opposite. The best known French film about this period of history is La Grande Vadrouille (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Grande_Vadrouille) (1966), a comedy sprinkled with adventure. In fact I can only think about comedy-adventure films in France :

- Les Bidasses en folie (1971)
- Les Bidasses s'en vont en guerre (1974)
- Les Bidasses en cavale (1976)
- Les Bidasses au pensionnat (1978)
- Les Bidasses en vadrouille (1979)
- Les Bidasses aux grandes manoeuvres (1981)
- Le Retour des bidasses en folie (1983)
- Papy fait de la resistance (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086079/) (1983)

British WWII films (see list (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Top-British-World-War-pictures/lm/2L7S1C6IOOKSN)) are more like American ones, fairly serious and concentrating on the military aspects of the war rather than how people lived under the Nazi regime. There are also a few satiristic ones (starting with The Great Dictator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Dictator) by Charlie Chaplin).

The Italian's love for tragi-comedies is best epitomised in La Vita è bella (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Is_Beautiful), somewhere in between Schindler's List and French comedies.


The question is, why can French people laugh at the experience of WWII while most other countries seem unable to ? There is never a single dead person in French movies about WWII. It's more like a series of hide-and-seek games with German soldiers. If you are taken, you escape anyway. It feels like the French remember the war as a period of excitement, fun, stress and adventure rather than a sad or tragic period of history. Indeed WWII was pretty light-hearted in France compared to the apocalyptic WWI. French films about the First World War are much darker indeed.

I have never seen (or heard of) major German films about WWII. I think that the feeling of shame and/or culpability was so strong after the war that few movies were made on the subject, and if there are any, they are most likely not comedies.


According to me, the French prefer to leave the serious analysis of WWII to schools, specialised magazines and documentaries. And France does not lack of history magazines and TV channels ! In the USA, movies could be seen by a certain audience as "instructive". I do not see this as a positive thing as it can be dangerous to have a few producers decide of what the population should know about history, especially in a country known for its limited emphasis on history at school.

Mycernius
13-08-07, 12:28
I have never seen (or heard of) major German films about WWII. I think that the feeling of shame and/or culpability was so strong after the war that few movies were made on the subject, and if there are any, they are most likely not comedies.
You've not heard of Downfall then? Excellent film, and not a comedy.
There are at least two British sitcoms on WW2, 'Allo, 'Allo and Dad's Army. Norman Wisdom made a couple of film comedies about WW2 as well.

Elizabeth van Kampen
13-08-07, 18:14
Alo Alo, is a great film, I've seen it twice on TV. Good sense of humor.

I've been in a Japanese camp, in a real prison, but I didn't lose my sense of humor. Tears have been rolling over my cheeks from laughter now and then.
There was so much drama around me, so many women and children died. But now and then something funny happened. Laughter is the best medicine.

Maciamo
13-08-07, 20:53
You've not heard of Downfall then? Excellent film, and not a comedy.
Now that you mention it, yes I have heard of it, but I haven't seen it yet. It's more a biographical work though, so it's a bit different.

Never heard of 'Allo, 'Allo and Dad's Army...

thomas
23-08-07, 04:59
I have never seen (or heard of) major German films about WWII. I think that the feeling of shame and/or culpability was so strong after the war that few movies were made on the subject, and if there are any, they are most likely not comedies.

I have to chime in here. There's a pletora of war-related German movies from the 50s. No comedies though, one of the most famous being Bernhard Wicki's "Die Bruecke (http://www.ihffilm.com/512-es.html)" (The Bridge 1959), a classical anti-war movie.

Other famous movies include the international blockbuster "Das Boot (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082096/)" (directed by Wolfgang Petersen, 1981), Joseph Vilsmaier's "Stalingrad (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108211/)" (1993) and of course "Der Untergang (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363163/)" (2004) which was even quite successful here in Japan.

Recently, there's been a German comedy on Hitler, quite controversial, as it took a humorous approach on Hitler depicting him as an ordinary fallible and weak human being: "Mein Fuehrer - Die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit ueber Adolf Hitler" (2006).

Video link

=> http://www.myvideo.de/watch/402883

Maciamo
23-08-07, 12:05
I have to chime in here. There's a pletora of war-related German movies from the 50s. No comedies though, one of the most famous being Bernhard Wicki's "Die Bruecke (http://www.ihffilm.com/512-es.html)" (The Bridge 1959), a classical anti-war movie.
Other famous movies include the international blockbuster "Das Boot (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082096/)" (directed by Wolfgang Petersen, 1981), Joseph Vilsmaier's "Stalingrad (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108211/)" (1993) and of course "Der Untergang (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363163/)" (2004) which was even quite successful here in Japan.
Recently, there's been a German comedy on Hitler, quite controversial, as it took a humorous approach on Hitler depicting him as an ordinary fallible and weak human being: "Mein Fuehrer - Die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit ueber Adolf Hitler" (2006).
Video link
=> http://www.myvideo.de/watch/402883


Thanks for the links. I will try to find them here. Die Untergang is "The Downfall" in English, which Mycernius mentioned.

Snake
25-08-07, 08:25
And what can you tell us about Russian films?

Maciamo
26-08-07, 15:43
And what can you tell us about Russian films?

Well, you are Russian, so what can you tell us ?

gaijinalways
07-01-08, 06:29
Hmm Macimo, you always seem to hit a nerve. I noticed this thread has been dead for a while. Yes, the Americans seem to be serious over WWII, though you noticed MASH which portrays doctors working in the VIetnam conflict, is very humourous( and gut wrenching at times).

You say the French never show anyone getting killed. Is that very realistic, as how can you have a war without anyone dying?

As to cinema in the USA being the main source of historical education, hardly. that would be similar to saying most Japanese only kno about the war from manga (wait, that is somewhat true, isn't it?). The difference being is that the Japanese memorize a lot of dates and names, but many can't tell you why Japan was nuked! So I guess it depends on what you mean by education. Movie culture is always part and parcel of a nation's culture, but don't confuse it with education unless you're talking about documentaries.

Maciamo
07-01-08, 13:41
You say the French never show anyone getting killed. Is that very realistic, as how can you have a war without anyone dying?

The point is not of being realistic as these are comedies. Anyway, there were very few people killed in France during the Nazi occupation. The movies in question do not show the fighting of 1940 or those following D-Day, but the period in between.



As to cinema in the USA being the main source of historical education, hardly. that would be similar to saying most Japanese only kno about the war from manga (wait, that is somewhat true, isn't it?). The difference being is that the Japanese memorize a lot of dates and names, but many can't tell you why Japan was nuked! So I guess it depends on what you mean by education. Movie culture is always part and parcel of a nation's culture, but don't confuse it with education unless you're talking about documentaries.

I know for a fact that the Schindler's List is shown to 17-year old students in history class in Belgium. That is not a documentary but it is treated as such. I think that some other films like The Pianist, Save Private Ryan, or many older ones from the 50's and 60's (The Longest Day, D-Day...).