Is 2008 The Year of the Return of WWII Movies?
by Alex Billington
March 29, 2007
There's no real justification to say that 2008 is the real return of World War II movies, and it may be more of a trend than anything, but there are two big movies with major news in the last week that are both being directed by big directors and are focused on WWII. The first is Valkyrie, directed by X-Men and Superman Returns director Bryan Singer, and the second is Inglorious Bastards directed by Grindhouse and Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino.
For a long time Hollywood has had a fascination with World War II, putting out such Oscar winning epics as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. The World War II focus has almost become a genre of its own, with even a few more last year including Hannibal Rising, Flags of Our Fathers / Letters from Iwo Jima, and Paul Verhoeven's Black Book. I'm not sure exactly what interests so many filmmakers, maybe it's the endless stories to tell and vivid imagery. I had definitely thought soon enough we'd run out of stories, even fake or fantasy ones, but in Hollywood that's never the case.
Tells the story of real-life Nazi officer Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg who, along with several others, carried out the famous assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. The most interesting news - von Stauffenberg may be played by none other than Tom Cruise. His newly refurbished studio United Artists is financing and producing it, so it's likely he may take it on.
It was only recently named Valkyrie, courtesy of a scoop from Guardian. This sounds incredibly promising. At least in my opinion, Singer was given nearly $200 million and still turned out a worthy film (Superman Returns incase you missed it). I think he could fare well with this story, and even though it is Tom Cruise, I still like his performances on screen disregarding his real personality. This may be one hell of a WWII thriller if it comes together correctly and Singer pulls it off with finesse.
Tells the story of a group of soldiers on their way to be executed, when they get the chance of a reprieve. Tarantino has described them as "not your normal hero types that are thrown into a big deal in World War II." The part that gets me with this is that it's Tarantino. He's truly remarkable, just look at any of his movies, and now he's tackling World War II?! Sounds like one hell of a film experience to me. This has been in discussion for a long time and older mentions stated that the script would be incredibly long and may end up being a 2 or 3 part movie, somewhat like Kill Bill.
This is relevant for 2008 because Tarantino recently spoke in regards to the film while promoting Grindhouse and said that he would probably finish the script while on his world wide press tour for Grindhouse. It's been confirmed for a while that Tarantino would cast Michael Madsen (who was Budd in Kill Bill) as Babe Buchinsky, the lead character. I am more than excited to find out what the heck this is all about and see what Tarantino does with a WWII film.
A few more worth mentioning but aren't as big as the first two:
The Sand - A horror movie about something discovered in Africa by a platoon in 1942.
The Few - Another Tom Cruise film, this time about the true-life story of American pilot Billy Fiske.
Red Tails - Like Flyboys but in WWII and about the first African-American pilots.
To What's Coming Soon!
There will always be WWII movies every year, or every few, as we've seen is always the case in Hollywood. But if these two come together with such big name directors as Tarantino and Singer, then we've got one heck of a set of WWII films on their way for 2008. Saving Private Ryan is one of my own all time favorite films, and ever since that came out, I've been excited for every well made WWII film afterwards. Both Enemy at the Gates and The Thin Red Line are some more of my favorites set during WWII. And I've got to give mention to Barry Pepper, who's a staple for every good WWII movie and is a great actor.
As sad and tragic as World War II was, it has given us a bountiful amount of great stories to tell and great imagery to go along with them. From Schindler's List to Saving Private Ryan, it is undeniable that some of the greatest films in history surround WWII.