23 January 2012 4:34 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Steven Spielberg's equine epic may help dispel the acquiescence in warfare to which his own films contributed

Steven Spielberg has done his bit to shape western attitudes to warfare. Saving Private Ryan burnished the myth of heroic conflict when cinema had lost faith in it. Schindler's List re-established the useful notion of the indisputably evil foe. In the films of the 40s and 50s, our boys socked it to the Nazis time and again to audiences' innocent delight. However, Vietnam swept away the simplicities of battlefield bravado. When Hollywood got round to confronting that ill-fated undertaking, it found little to glorify. Instead it homed in on the horror, the horror.

Films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Casualties of War fed public disgust with militarism. America, it was said, would never again put boots on the ground in conflict, but would turn its back on foreign entanglements as its founders had intended. »

- David Cox

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