Steven Spielberg's other three hour war flick about the madness of it all.
One thing that his direction definitely doesn't go for here is realism. Right from the famous D-Day landing sequence at the start, his team hits us with all the cinematic trappings they can muster to quash that sort of thing. Slow-motion, music, mis-matched colours, messing about with the location sound, a really famous lead actor…
But if you buy into those kind of conventions, as I just have, then this is three hours of compelling drama. From the bloodied soldier crying out "Mama! Mama! Arghhh!" as they die, to the sprawling insanity of it all, the real loser throughout this film is war itself.
Typing this straight afterwards, I'm filled with three feelings:
1. a sense of how utterly pointless the whole idea of war is,
2. a sense of what little moral compass the characters have (there's so much misguided retribution here), and
3. a nasty feeling that the second world war actually did happen a little a while back, and that other similarly daft follies are going on around the world while I'm getting to sit here typing and eating a sausage roll. When, at the end of the movie, that guy stands in the present day cemetery surrounded by his family in peacetime, I have to reflect on how relieved my own parents must be / have been that I was born into such a quiet place and time. I so don't deserve this.
Most of the time I don't really understand why people make sad movies. Who wants to pay money to be made to feel miserable? This one I do understand.
It is literally so that we don't forget.