Aero Theatre
1328 Montana Avenue,
Santa Monica, CA 90403 Map
Thu, Feb 6, 2020 - Thu, Feb 27, 2020
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VISIONS OF A PALE HORSE: ANTIWAR CINEMA

French filmmaker François Truffaut famously declared that “there’s no such thing as an antiwar film,” and if that claim is contested even to this day, his sentiment reflects the inherent difficulties of balancing authorial conviction with depictions of human atrocity. Can a film show the horrors of war without glorifying the spectacle? Since cinema’s birth, filmmakers have tried to resolve this paradox, and even the most famous anti-war parables fall short of delivering a conclusive answer.

There is perhaps no genre more naturally inclined towards antiwar than political satire. Both Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War classic DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB and Robert Altman’s two-pronged attack on the Vietnam and Korean Wars M*A*S*H, make use of dark humor that reflects modern times and leaves little room for ambiguity. Working in the same vein, directors Philippe de Broca and Jack Arnold further distort reality without losing their searing critical bite in KING OF HEARTS and THE MOUSE THAT ROARED, two hilarious satires about the absurdity of war. Richard Attenborough’s directorial debut, OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR, takes the insanity up another notch, by injecting elaborate musical numbers into the stark reality of World War I.

Other filmmakers strive to create a more humanist portrait of war, an approach that both Jean Renoir and Nagisa Oshima share in GRAND ILLUSION and MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR LAWRENCE, respectively. Both films largely avoid the depiction of military conflict and instead focus on human connections within POW camps. Pacifism is also a central theme in Masaki Kobayashi’s nearly ten-hour epic THE HUMAN CONDITION, although here, the hero’s optimism eventually diminishes as the weight of time and the meaninglessness of war increases.

Some filmmakers deal directly with human atrocity to counter the traditional Hollywood mode that glorifies combat. There is perhaps no more extreme example of this than Elem Klimov’s COME AND SEE, a brutal journey through war-ravaged Eastern Europe that equates the unthinkable tragedies of World War II with the biblical apocalypse. The film, presented in a stunning new 4K restoration by Janus Films, is one that critic Roger Ebert called “one of the most devastating films ever about anything.” Lacking the visceral shock value, though no less extreme in their meditations on death, Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY and Larisa Sheptiko’s THE ASCENT further underline the tragedy of war through the agonizing experience of soldiers on death row.

Series compiled by Chris LeMaire. Series notes by Chris LeMaire.

Aero TheatreThu, Feb 6, 2020 - Thu, Feb 27, 2020
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Films in this Series at the Aero

Matinee Screening!
Thu, Feb 6, 2020 - 1:00pm
Aero Theatre
Actor Elliott Gould In Person!
Thu, Feb 6, 2020 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Fri, Feb 7, 2020 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Sat, Feb 8, 2020 - 1:00pm
Aero Theatre
Matinee Screening!
Thu, Feb 13, 2020 - 1:00pm
Aero Theatre
Matinee Screening!
Thu, Feb 20, 2020 - 1:00pm
Aero Theatre
Sat, Feb 22, 2020 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Sun, Feb 23, 2020 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Matinee Screening!
Thu, Feb 27, 2020 - 1:00pm
Aero Theatre