Available Now!

Available Now!
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Perpetuating War by Exalting Its Sacrifices

For the first time in ages I watched the 1964 movie The Americanization of Emily, directed by Arthur Hiller, with screenplay by the great Paddy Chayefsky (available from Netflix). I won't go into the details of this antiwar romance set during World War II, just before D-Day. For that, click here to read Rick Gee's excellent run-down.

All I'll do is quote the lead character Charlie Madison's (James Garner) perceptive speech to his English girlfriend's (Julie Andrews) mother, who has lost her husband, son, and son-in-law in the war:
I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it's always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows' weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.


Anthony Gregory said...

An excellent movie! I rushed to get it on DVD when it first came out.

Sheldon Richman said...

I'll be watching it again before I send it back.