- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

“The Great Raid,” the new World War II movie dramatizing the liberation by Army Rangers of 500 American POWs from a brutal Japanese camp in the Philippines, is a refreshing change from the moral-equivalence war movies that Hollywood has specialized in since the Vietnam era. The scarlet thread of such movies is that America is no better — sometimes, indeed, worse — than its enemy.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) — Oliver Stone’s highly acclaimed “Platoon”-on-the-homefront melodrama had as its central character a once-gung-ho soldier who is paralyzed in Vietnam and returns home to assume the role of anti-war activist.

Apocalypse Now (1979) Surfing, Playboy bunnies and napalm in the morning: Americans in Vietnam are depicted less as sentinels of freedom than as heedlessly — if often exuberantly — destructive cowboys and cultural imperialists carrying the contagions of decadence and excess.

M*A*S*H (1970) — America’s struggle against communism didn’t merit a mention here. War, this Robert Altman classic suggested, is an insanity that can be rationalized only by absurdity.

Three Kings (1999) — In a contemporary twist on the plot of the 1970 postmodern World War II movie “Kelly’s Heroes,” four American soldiers search for gold in liberated Kuwait. Because, you know, that’s what the Gulf war was really about.

Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) — In Alain Resnais’ new wave classic, a French woman and a Japanese man become lovers in postwar Hiroshima, flashing back to their respective miserable experiences during the war. As in the recent Civil War drama “Cold Mountain,” war, regardless of its moral stakes, has a nasty habit of getting in the way of romance.

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