Sunday, 3 June 2012

The art of war

♫ Sabaton – Karolinens Bön

I've been a slightly lazy blogger, and slightly busy in real life as well. And if I was going to write about what special I've been doing lately, you might have a déjà vu after reading "I went to see Dreamtale live" for the fourth time. *giggles*

The theme of this post is warfare as a source of inspiration for artistic endeavours. Personally, I have very contradictory feelings when it comes to war and military related imagery. I'm quite sure most people can say they hate war and wish we could leave in peace and so on, and so do I. I'm also pacifist to the point of not being enthusiastic to try firearms if I ever got a chance (I'm talking about perfectly legal hobbies here). If I was a man, I would refuse to take military service, opting for civil service instead.

However, I cannot deny that warfare is a huge part of history, inspiration for stories, and probably even a remarkable part of human nature. It doesn't matter whether we are watching Star Wars, playing a sink ship game or reading some fantasy novel; war, battle or fight is often a part of the whole thing, not necessarily everything though. And why wouldn't it be? Two (or more) quarrelsome parties disputing in violent ways is often more interesting than peaceful conciliation. I also enjoy my regular dose of warfare whenever I've watching, reading or playing something.

This blog post is about real history though, not fictional wars. I've never been a fan of war movies or books, and I have been lucky enough to graduate from a Finnish comprehensive school, high school and university without having to read or watch The Unknown Soldier. I only had to watch a few scenes of the film in the Finnish film history lectures I had to take (which were probably the most horrifying compulsory lectures in university). And well, I can say I hate live action war films with a passion!

Some time ago I came across this DVD on sale, only for 5 €. Since I had seen it in a movie theater after its release and enjoyed it, I knew it would be worth my money. Yesterday we finally had a proper movie night and watched it, and well, it was still good.

Waltz with Bashir is Ari Folman's animated documentary film, released in 2008. It depicts Folman himself trying to complete a puzzle of his memories and recollections of his time as a soldier in the Lebanon War in the 80s. And it really is a documentary film, not a drama or an action piece "based on true events" – this means it doesn't have a real dramatic arc but consists of both interview and action footage like television documents. I think I once read how some professionals in the field wondered why Folman wanted to make this kind of film using animation, but I think the choice was perfect (not only because I wouldn't have watched it otherwise). The visual style of the movie is very interesting, and I think it portrays the soldiers' feelings very well: what it is like to be utterly scared, or to have a feeling of being on a vacation even at the front.

If there is a hole in your history knowledge and you don't quite know who were fighting in Lebanon and why, the movie won't leave you much wiser. It concentrates on the veterans' feelings, fears, memories and traumas rather than politics. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in historical wars too, but first and foremost to those who haven't enjoyed other war movies like me.

And I guess the movie's success implies it is a good one; the front cover of the DVD states it was nominated for an Academy Award for the best foreign language film and it won the Golden Globe award of the same category. (Being an Israeli film, the main language is Hebrew.) One fangirl also had trouble sitting still back then in the movie theater when OMD's Enola Gay started playing in one scene. It's also a good war related piece of art!

I won't include everything I enjoy of this theme into one single blog entry, so I will move onto music now. Ever heard of Sabaton, a Swedish heavy / power metal band whose lyrical themes revolve almost solely around historical wars? Not only are the lyrics interesting, but their musical style combined with the frontman Joakim Brodén's strong voice makes their songs very enjoyable. (Most of their songs are in English but I also really like the Swedish versions of their new songs; somehow I think Swedish suits metal music.)

Primo Victoria is about the Invasion of Normandy, and the song which got me into Sabaton in the first place.

A Lifetime of War is from their newest album Carolus Rex which was released a few weeks ago. The lyrics are a good reminder of how insane warfare actually is.

I truly suggest checking out more of their songs or videos if you got interested. I guess I will stop here, though I might write more about the theme in the future, I already have something on mind. Until the next time anyway, so long!

P.S: Anyone else experiencing problems with Blogger loading CSS stylings? My blog background and linked fonts suddenly stopped loading, sucks!


  1. I've heard nothing but good things about "Waltz with Bashir," and, oddly enough, all from intelligent people. Was that his demographic? So I do hope to see this documentary myself one of these days.

    As for Sabaton- totally awesome! My favorite song by them is "Uprising-" about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 against the Nazi regime. Wish more people knew about them!

    1. The film has indeed been praised by many critics and the likes. Being a war film, it's a bit controversial, but I think it's strong and impressive. Some people think it remains distant because it is animated, but personally I find it a particularly efficient way to touch the audience.

      And Uprising is very good as well. I like its music video too, it's influential too.

  2. Taitaa Blogger nyt lagata melkein kaikilla, välillä ei suostu näyttämään koko sivua. 'Waltz with Bashirista' tuli jotenkin mieleen Persepolis-animaatio, oletko mahdollisesti nähnyt/voisitko suositella?

    1. No hyvä tietää, itseä pistää vituttamaan kun välillä ei näy fontit ja välillä taustakuva...
      Persepolis on hyvä myös, meinasin jopa sisällyttää sen tähän, mutta totesin, että taidanpa katsoa sen ensin uudestaan ennen kuin kirjoitan siitä mitään. :D Muutama vuosi ehtinyt vierähtää, mutta kyllä, voin suositella, varmaan jos tykkää Bashirista niin tykkää siitä ja päinvastoin.


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