In May, the Air Force removed the documentary “Armadillo” from the chief of staff’s reading list due to scenes with nudity.
But the movie is such a compelling account of how Danish troops adjust to combat in Afghanistan that Flightlines is putting it at the top of its first-ever recommended viewing list.
Like “Restrepo,” the movie shows an unvarnished view of war that allows you to understand why troops get excited at the chance of killing the enemy.
Also on this year’s list is “Memphis Belle” – the 1943 documentary, not the movie of the same name. Camera crews were onboard a B-17’s final mission over Germany, capturing what it’s like to fly through anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters.
Even though it was made during wartime censorship, the movie shows a bomber being shot down and some of the crew bailing out while the others go down with the plane – a moment of honesty that would not be possible today.
To get an idea of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the bombs, we recommend “Grave of the Fireflies,” an animated film about two Japanese children in 1945 who try to survive after their mother is killed in a fire bombing raid.
Even though this is a cartoon, watching a boy and his younger sister wither away from hunger is no less heartbreaking.
A classic – but mostly forgotten war movie – is “Gallipoli,” staring a young Mel Gibson. The movie is a stark portrayal of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1916 in which the British army literally threw away the lives of Australian troops.
It shows how the higher ups can be so caught up in optimistic thinking that they are totally – and criminally – detached from the realties on the ground.
The final recommended movie for this year is “A Walk in the Sun,” made in 1945 about the invasion of Italy two years earlier. It made an attempt to show the crippling effects of Post Traumatic Stress, and although it is dated by the constraints at the time, it is nonetheless a valiant attempt.
These may not be the happiest movies ever, but they show that war is cruel and sad and – if we are lucky – short.