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Thread: The Warrior

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    Default The Warrior

    Hi. A shower thought on how warriors and war is portrayed in media

    Looking back at recent movies of war, the overall message is often one where the protagonist is a reluctant warrior. A movie where war, as a concept to the audience, is (partially) undermined. Can you think of good exceptions?

    That's the TLDR, here's the extra fluff:
    --------

    For some reason or another, the warrior is forced to fight when he initially avoids the responsibility. It's tricky to create a believable character, who shift from the passive and reluctant type, into an aggressive and vigorous warrior, however. There's nothing wrong with that perspective. It adds tension and drama to a story arch.

    The second and last point is how war itself is deemed as a bad thing, doubted or undermined. In part or wholly. Once again, there's nothing unreasonable with that perspective either. Obviously. Any description in the aftermath of a sanguinary conflict will satiated most people's lust for it.

    Then there's the small group who want to go to war. Then there's the perspective who see war as a necessary part of life – To preserve what one consider good, war is a good thing. In this perspective, the alternative is slavery, torture, or death.

    What I'm curious about is
    • What are your thoughts on how war and warriors are portrayed in media at the moment? What does that say about us?
    • What does a non-reluctant warrior look like in movies? The paramount example that I can think of now is Leonidas and his "children" in 300. He is 100% in the game. There might be persian diplomats and inbred religious swine who try to shake him off the course, but his role is set from start to finish. Much thanks to Cercei Lannister.
    • What does a pro-war movie look like? Once again, a prominent example, where war itself is seen as a good thing, is the movie 300. Despite priests and politicians blocking war, despite the traitor Ephialtes was "created" by the army, despite a tragic death caused a father to go mad with bloodlust. Despite all of those aspects, non of it diminished the sacrifice, "a beautiful death", which lead to a good end. The father (sic.) filled his heart with hate, and this was a good thing. He used this hate to kill more enemies. The message was that war was a good thing. No gray area.


    100% tribal propaganda, ironically, told by a one eyed narrator, who was not present at the climactic engagement. It suitable choice.

    Can you think of any other movie in the last 2 decades which comes close to 300?

    Thank you.

    ~Wille
    Thorolf was thus armed. Then Thorolf became so furious that he cast his shield on his back, and, grasping his halberd with both hands, bounded forward dealing cut and thrust on either side. Men sprang away from him both ways, but he slew many. Thus he cleared the way forward to earl Hring's standard, and then nothing could stop him. He slew the man who bore the earl's standard, and cut down the standard-pole. After that he lunged with his halberd at the earl's breast, driving it right through mail and body, so that it came out at the shoulders; and he lifted him up on the halberd over his head, and planted the butt-end in the ground. There on the weapon the earl breathed out his life in sight of all, both friends and foes. [...] 53, Egil's Saga
    I must tell you here of some amusing tricks the Comte d'Eu played on us. I had made a sort of house for myself in which my knights and I used to eat, sitting so as to get the light from the door, which, as it happened, faced the Comte d'Eu's quarters. The count, who was a very ingenious fellow, had rigged up a miniature ballistic machine with which he could throw stones into my tent. He would watch us as we were having our meal, adjust his machine to suit the length of our table, and then let fly at us, breaking our pots and glasses.
    - The pranks played on the knight Jean de Joinville, 1249, 7th crusade.













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    chriscase's Avatar Princess Thunderballs
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    How about Starship Troopers? There you've got a lot of very enthusiastic warriors but the narrative itself arguably subverts them.

    Why is it that mysteries are always about something bad? You never hear there's a mystery, and then it's like, "Who made cookies?"
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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    A warrior is subject to a chieftain, a king at best. A soldier is at the very least subject to an Emperor, or to a Nation. More likely a soldier is simply a professional of some sort, who does not suffer the looming threat of war anymore. But once war breaks out and all the soldiers are defeated, you want a warrior at your side.

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    Default Re: The Warrior

    War is a bad thing.

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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Quote Originally Posted by enoch View Post
    War is a bad thing.
    Absolutely. Just like thirst, hunger, disease and death itself.

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    Default Re: The Warrior

    What does a non-reluctant warrior look like in movies? The paramount example that I can think of now is Leonidas and his "children" in 300. He is 100% in the game. There might be persian diplomats and inbred religious swine who try to shake him off the course, but his role is set from start to finish
    300. Actually a great use of warrior and why I despise it being used to describe Soldiers in a lot of context. Leonidas in the 300 acts like a warrior (as did the real one) and essentially blows a holding action that should have continued to be successful. The result was that an actual thinking soldier in Themistocles had to be really lucky to lure Xerxes in a fight at Salamis that the king need not have fought.

    What does a pro-war movie look like? Once again, a prominent example, where war itself is seen as a good thing, is the movie 300. Despite priests and politicians blocking war, despite the traitor Ephialtes was "created" by the army, despite a tragic death caused a father to go mad with bloodlust. Despite all of those aspects, non of it diminished the sacrifice, "a beautiful death", which lead to a good end. The father (sic.) filled his heart with hate, and this was a good thing. He used this hate to kill more enemies. The message was that war was a good thing. No gray area.
    The comical opposition to the war in the 300 is well beyond silly. You might well consider what Wellington had to say a man who very much saw more combat than the creators of the 300...

    "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won..."
    Last edited by conon394; May 20, 2021 at 10:24 AM.
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    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Morticia Iunia Bruti's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Been as teen with my parents in Verdun on a holiday trip down the Meuse and then again with school as history excursion i can' imagine personally how a pro war movie could be good or convincing.

    War may be sometimes an necessary evil, but its not a thing, which could be positively presented. It would be a shallow lie.

    And that 300 movie? "This is sparta! UGA!" For me its an unintended persiflage, i can't take that seriously.
    Last edited by Morticia Iunia Bruti; May 20, 2021 at 09:44 AM.
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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    A bit criticism of the 300 - the Movie - sorry not read the source graphic novel. But the snide jab at Athens (as boy lovers) is hilariously silly and off the mark looking at you Sparta. But in reality is Sparta is a text book case for actual foot dragging almost loosing the war at about every instance. They avoid war as much as they could because a war risked their slave empire and papered elite status in their own private little empire.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Not Alexander, Rome, or any adaptions of Genghis Khan's story.

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    Default Re: The Warrior

    War is all hell and it takes a huge amount of propaganda and lies to get your war makers to the front line and die for whatever purpose the rulers have.

    A film like 300 is absurd and resorts to things like negative sexual and racial stereotypes, crude Hollywood tropes and outright dishonesty left right and centre (Rhinos? In my Thessalian pass?) but if you read it as a blueprint for how you lie about a massacre to make it a motivating tool it makes some sense.
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    War is all hell and it takes a huge amount of propaganda and lies to get your war makers to the front line and die for whatever purpose the rulers have.

    A film like 300 is absurd and resorts to things like negative sexual and racial stereotypes, crude Hollywood tropes and outright dishonesty left right and centre (Rhinos? In my Thessalian pass?) but if you read it as a blueprint for how you lie about a massacre to make it a motivating tool it makes some sense.
    The film is certainly a fantasy trope on steroids. But it does share many themes with the story it is based on - like ideas of honourable self sacrifice for the many and the deceitful shame of compromise or appeasement.

    There are plenty of films that show war with glorious hyperbole while challenging it's necessity. Barry Lyndon's Seven Years War odyssey is a fantastic example - the title character manages to both be an optimistically naïve war adventurer who willingly seeks out war as an escape for his failed civilian life - only to become both a war hero and war cynic at the same time and ultimately, the film ends up a cautionary tale about the absurdity of our attempts to avoid the machinations of the world.

    Compare this to The Patriot (set in an overlapping time period) - which throws us a cartoon reluctant (anti)hero, who is forced to become the very thing he has spent his life fleeing - the bad man that was created by the Seven Years War - who is again forced to do very bad things, because the conflict of his time is zero sum and if you try to sit it out, you'll loose all the same.

    The two films are excellent reflections on societal expectations of war tropes. Barry Lyndon coming at the height of the Cold War and US failure in Vietnam. The Patriot on the other hand, sits at the penultimate moment of US Hegemony over the world and freedom and all that - and that the ends (all the non-freedom stuff the US does) justified the means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    The film is certainly a fantasy trope on steroids. But it does share many themes with the story it is based on - like ideas of honourable self sacrifice for the many and the deceitful shame of compromise or appeasement.
    Its also displays the shameful premise the Persians were somehow degenerate, subhuman and over sophisticated at the same time: some Hellenes seem to have appealed to similar fantasies. Sadly the opposing view expressed by say Herodotus (who displays frank if not unqualified admiration for Cyrus, and considers the victories at Plataea and Marathon as all the more worthy for having been against great foes) does not make an appearance in Miller's garish (if visually striking) mangling of history.

    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    There are plenty of films that show war with glorious hyperbole while challenging it's necessity. Barry Lyndon's Seven Years War odyssey is a fantastic example - the title character manages to both be an optimistically naïve war adventurer who willingly seeks out war as an escape for his failed civilian life - only to become both a war hero and war cynic at the same time and ultimately, the film ends up a cautionary tale about the absurdity of our attempts to avoid the machinations of the world.

    Compare this to The Patriot (set in an overlapping time period) - which throws us a cartoon reluctant (anti)hero, who is forced to become the very thing he has spent his life fleeing - the bad man that was created by the Seven Years War - who is again forced to do very bad things, because the conflict of his time is zero sum and if you try to sit it out, you'll loose all the same.

    The two films are excellent reflections on societal expectations of war tropes. Barry Lyndon coming at the height of the Cold War and US failure in Vietnam. The Patriot on the other hand, sits at the penultimate moment of US Hegemony over the world and freedom and all that - and that the ends (all the non-freedom stuff the US does) justified the means.
    I've only recently watched Barry Lyndon, obviously considered a cinematographic masterpiece and actually quite true to the source material. Obviously it helps it get made if the view of war coincide with a 1970's perspective, an the view of war as a miserable misfortune is not a recent development. I guess the Patriot is true to US politics and historiography. The misrepresentation of the founding of the US is predictably crass.

    I think also of Other "war" movies like Rambo, Red Dawn etc. The stupidity of the idea that the Soviets and Cubans were poised to invade the US and had plans based on gun registration laws to round up "patriots" (=gun owners) was obvious even to a dumb teenager such as I was when I saw it in the 1980's.
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    I think also of Other "war" movies like Rambo, Red Dawn etc. The stupidity of the idea that the Soviets and Cubans were poised to invade the US and had plans based on gun registration laws to round up "patriots" (=gun owners) was obvious even to a dumb teenager such as I was when I saw it in the 1980's.
    Not going to defend red dawn (its conservative talking points and team b fantasy about how strong the USSR was are laughable) but I will admit I recently kill some time re watching it and I do think maybe had more people in the GBJr admin have had a movie night with it they might have had some second thoughts about their planned short victorious war in Iraq.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Morticia Iunia Bruti's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    While Rambo was a still watchable movie because of the the PTS problem of the veteran, the rest like Rambo II, all Chuck Norris Missing in Action movies are stupid, brain dead US UBER ALLEM propaganda movies. The only really watchable not white washing or history rewriting movies from that time are Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.
    Last edited by Morticia Iunia Bruti; May 23, 2021 at 07:16 AM.
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    Go Tell the Spartans (1978) is good but I do think it would qualify as the opposite of the OP movie (Vietnam era that is).

    The thing is the OP problem is that war is more or less never unambiguously good (or more generally its almost unambiguously bad for most of its participants). But in general there are lots of movies set historically far enough in the past the present unambiguous good guys not reluctant warriors for one side. The bonus of course is if you back far enough you can forget the politics, the grey morality, the rape, dying un gloriously from say cholera or something.
    Last edited by conon394; May 23, 2021 at 08:03 AM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Quote Originally Posted by chriscase View Post
    How about Starship Troopers? There you've got a lot of very enthusiastic warriors but the narrative itself arguably subverts them.
    Hi.
    I'm half way into the book now. In reflection, I don't know where to begin to comment on the movie. Convoluted is a word. Even if the producer gave the author the middle finger, his movie is partially relevant to our discussion.
    I felt like the teacher's moral philosophy, that was accurately retained from the book, was more convincing than the film's agitprop, infomercials, and other superficial changes. Who knows why it still holds up. What is your take on the film in regards to the question at hand?

    The beauty for me came when Rico (movie) didn't pay attention to his teacher. This is an accurate symbol of the producer, who confessed in an interview, that he didn't bother reading past the book's second chapter because he was bored. He he. �� Talk about nonchalance.

    Despite the two irreconcilable egos, they're both interesting works of fiction.
    Thank you.

    ~Wille
    Thorolf was thus armed. Then Thorolf became so furious that he cast his shield on his back, and, grasping his halberd with both hands, bounded forward dealing cut and thrust on either side. Men sprang away from him both ways, but he slew many. Thus he cleared the way forward to earl Hring's standard, and then nothing could stop him. He slew the man who bore the earl's standard, and cut down the standard-pole. After that he lunged with his halberd at the earl's breast, driving it right through mail and body, so that it came out at the shoulders; and he lifted him up on the halberd over his head, and planted the butt-end in the ground. There on the weapon the earl breathed out his life in sight of all, both friends and foes. [...] 53, Egil's Saga
    I must tell you here of some amusing tricks the Comte d'Eu played on us. I had made a sort of house for myself in which my knights and I used to eat, sitting so as to get the light from the door, which, as it happened, faced the Comte d'Eu's quarters. The count, who was a very ingenious fellow, had rigged up a miniature ballistic machine with which he could throw stones into my tent. He would watch us as we were having our meal, adjust his machine to suit the length of our table, and then let fly at us, breaking our pots and glasses.
    - The pranks played on the knight Jean de Joinville, 1249, 7th crusade.













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    chriscase's Avatar Princess Thunderballs
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    I guess my overall impression of the film was that it was remarkably subtle about bringing in elements of social futuristic fiction. Generally audiences are not interested in speculation about how society might evolve in the future - it's very easy to feel as if one is being lectured or manipulated by some propagandist. But Verhoeven is pretty masterful how he works in those elements. On the surface this future society seems entirely plausible but overall we are left with a sense of profound differences.

    So in that context the attitude toward conflict and violence seems to sit right in the middle - consistent and yet alien. Do these people deplore violence and war, or don't they? Perhaps we're getting a very limited view?

    I do think that the intent of the director *is* to criticize warlike propaganda in modern society, only it's being done in an indirect way. As for the book, I haven't read it, sad to say...

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    @Kjertesvein

    What what is teacher philosophy again sorry to say the book was deadly awful. I can't quit recall but I do recall it is silly Heinlein fascism (or rather a gross fetishism of only one type of service to your country or polity). But feel free to remind me. Some blather about violence solving everything right? Also still not addressed that the 'warrior' of the 300 damn near lost the war.
    Last edited by conon394; May 23, 2021 at 04:27 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

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    chriscase's Avatar Princess Thunderballs
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Well at least in the film the line goes something like:

    "My grandmother said violence never solves anything."

    "I wonder what the city council of Nagasaki would say to that."

    "Nothing, because they're all dead."

    The argument being more that historically violence has "solved" a lot of things in the sense of determining how they turned out. Not that it "solves" everything - just a refutation of the claim that it hasn't solved anything.

    Wasn't Heinlein a WWII vet or something?

    Why is it that mysteries are always about something bad? You never hear there's a mystery, and then it's like, "Who made cookies?"
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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: The Warrior

    Quote Originally Posted by chriscase View Post
    Well at least in the film the line goes something like:

    "My grandmother said violence never solves anything."

    "I wonder what the city council of Nagasaki would say to that."

    "Nothing, because they're all dead."

    The argument being more that historically violence has "solved" a lot of things in the sense of determining how they turned out. Not that it "solves" everything - just a refutation of the claim that it hasn't solved anything.

    Wasn't Heinlein a WWII vet or something?
    In our modern age, the destructive capability simply is too horrible and intimidating. Ages (centuries) ago, violence was everything and would decide everything and decide which countries would emerge and survive and which language would be spoken.
    We have to re-learn human interaction again and we are in a critical phase right now. If we don't get this, we actually might destroy ourselves, despite the best intentions of everyone.

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