Every Christmas, we watch a handful of films that are just so iconic to Americana that, no matter how many times they get played, you’ll watch ’em again next year. One such film is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Though never overtly stated in the film, it’s pretty clear that Chevy Chase’s character, Clark Griswold, is a former sailor in the U.S. Navy. Every action he takes falls perfectly in line with how 90% of veterans are in real life.
We get a clue into Clark’s service when crazy Aunt Bethany arrives for Christmas Eve dinner. She’s senile and has a tendency to ask questions that haven’t been relevant for years. She asks Ellen if she’s still dating Clark, but they’ve been married and have two teenage kids. Perhaps more importantly, she asks Clark’s son, Rusty, if he’s still in the Navy.
This doesn’t make sense — Rusty’s still a kid. But earlier in the film, when Clark’s stuck in the attic, he not only walks by a military tough-box labelled, “Griswold,” he also watches some old family videos featuring crazy Aunt Bethany giving cookies to what appears to be a younger “Sparky” Clark, in uniform.
He’s a perfectionist, even if he procrastinates.
Clark’s central goal throughout the entire National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise is to give his family the best vacation ever. In Christmas Vacation, it’s all about having the most festive time. But, just like a veteran, he overdoes everything at the expense of his sanity and safety.
Unlike everyone else in the neighborhood, the Griswolds don’t have their houses decorated well in advance of the holidays — Clark begins decorating the house on Dec. 15. He makes up for his lost time by checking every bulb (twice) and manages to hook up 25,000 “twinkling little” lights in just one day. When it doesn’t go right, he manages to set it all up and get it right the next day.
His family is both overly patriotic and crazy in their own right.
Military families almost always have two things in common: they’re dysfunctional and very patriotic. They’re crazy, but they’re our families, so we make due. Every scene in the film is full of moments that military families can relate to.
During breakfast, both Clark’s and Ellen’s fathers argue over who had worse rations in the background, so we can assume they’re also veterans. Later on, during Christmas dinner, the family begins saying grace, but it eventually diverts into the Pledge of Allegiance. When the sewer blows up and the plastic Santa goes flying, they just give in and sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
When he snaps…
Rounding out how Chevy Chase perfectly captures the spirit of a veteran is, of course, the famous rant. Only a veteran can be this creative with off-the-cuff insults.
Warning: This video contains NFSW language. (Movieclips | YouTube)
What do you guys think? Let us know in the comment section.
That satisfying “Ping!” of bullets on target is as regular as a metronome when former Green Beret sniper, Aaron Barruga, is running tactical marksmanship drills on his home turf in Santa Clarita, CA. With his company, Guerrilla Approach, Barruga trains civilians, military, and law enforcement in proper and effective tactical firearm deployment.
The man does not miss.
“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis paid a visit to Barruga’s training facility to bone up on his sharpshooting and found himself in good hands, drilling shoulder to shoulder with this veteran entrepreneurial success story. Barruga’s advice?
“I would definitely say that, if they have the opportunity, use that G.I. Bill. Get that piece of paper that says, “I’m smart and employable.” And just grind away, basically. You gotta hustle.”
As the day progresses, the sweat beading on Ryan’s brow is a testament to his hustle, if not his dead shot accuracy. And when he challenges Barruga to an Old West-style duel, our host quickly learns what high noon looks like at the Less-than-OK Corral.
Watch as Barruga makes plinking targets look easy, and Curtis proves his monkey is definitely the drunkest, in the video embedded at the top.
Veterans who are fans of the hit series “Drunk History” will appreciate a new, hilarious vet version of the show. “Drunken Debrief” features real U.S. military veterans drinking real whiskey and telling true stories from their time in service. It’s like listening to a bunch of your fellow vets sitting around recounting stories from their time in service over and over, only this time the stories are on YouTube and they’re actually funny (and true).
Drunken Debrief is the brainchild of Eli Cuevas, who came up with the idea one day while figuring out production ideas for video games with his friend and fellow veteran Justin Ennis while working for RocketJump, a video game-oriented company. Cuevas enlisted help from Ennis, and Guy Storz, guys with whom he deployed to Iraq in 2007-08 while attached to the 2nd Infantry Division Strykers, first to Combat Outpost Blackfoot, then to Diyala Province. After they all got out of the Army, they started Double Tap Gear, a company whose clothing sales fuels the video production. The team also includes a civilian, Gallagher Scott, who does their concept art. From start to finish, the team wants the best possible product.
“We shoot on RED,” Cuevas said. “No expense spared, I want this to to be as high quality and professional as possible.”
Cuevas also wants to include veterans in the production of the Debrief, and is looking for veteran actors (that is to say, actors who are also veterans) to reach out to Double Tap via their Facebook page. Cuevas and company are also looking for veterans to share their stories the same way. If your story is picked, Cuevas will fly you out to sit with the Double Tap crew and knock back some Leadslinger’s Whiskey as you share your stuff with the world.
The first series is a trilogy and features Army veteran Luke Denman telling the story of a fellow soldier with whom he served. The story of “Staff Sergeant Walker” (named changed for obvious reasons) was just too big to be kept to one video.
“I knew Luke from growing up together,” Cuevas says. ” I knew he was a good storyteller. I remembered one time, he told us a story about some dude on a deployment who brought a dildo. We got drunk, turned on the camera, and he just killed it.”
“The Big Flopper” is just part one in the series. Part two tells the story of Staff Sgt. Walker’s “Negligent Discharge,” and part three is about Walker’s inability to remember his radio call sign. Double Tap will put out new Drunken Debriefs every other week, while the weeks in between will feature “Military Minute,” a quick, funny way to keep their fans informed and entertained while they finish new debriefs. If you love Double Tap’s shirts, you can get your own at TeeBlaster.
Cuevas and the crew at Double Tap have plans to expand, and new episodes of Military Minute and Drunken Debrief are in the works. Cuevas will be collecting barracks stories from the guys at Article 15 and Black Rifle Coffee.
“Rambo” is one of the most recognizable military movie series of all time. The indestructible, bow-wielding Special Forces soldier was adapted for video games, comic books, animation, and much more. The series was a permanent fixture of the action movie genre during the 1980s and served as the inspiration for Chuck Norris’s “Delta Force,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Commando” and countless others.
Rambo is a guy’s guy with skills in all things badass: survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, and guerrilla warfare.
As you may recall, Rambo is pulled back into war on two occasions by Col. Trautman and saved the day in both films. Key and Peel made this hilarious comedy sketch depicting what the Trautman/Rambo meeting would be like if it happened today.
After Tim Miller built a successful career in visual effects with his company, Blur Studio — whose work spans from the Ninja Ninja arcade sequence in 2010’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” to the opening credits in 2011’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” — he became a savior in some corners of the fanboy space by directing 2016’s long-delayed “Deadpool” feature film.
The movie went on to be the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever at the worldwide box office until it was recently dethroned by “Joker.” But due to creative differences, Miller exited “Deadpool 2” before it was made.
Now Miller is back to helm of another IP in triage.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” (in theaters Nov 1, 2019) is a complete overhaul of the franchise. “Dark Fate” ignores parts three, four, and five, and picks up where “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” left off. This time there is a new future in despair, and a new Terminator, but Linda Hamilton is back to play Sarah Connor, along with franchise creator James Cameron in a producer role (the most hands-on he’s been since “T2”).
Miller talked to Business Insider about some of the major decisions made behind-the-scenes, including talk of the movie having simultaneous PG-13 and R-rated releases, and the disagreement Miller had with Cameron over a time-travel element.
Jason Guerrasio: These are some of the better reviews a “Terminator” movie has had in over a decade. That has to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Tim Miller: Well, there are enough split reviews that I just feel warm maybe not fuzzy. I know lots of people have franchise fatigue and it was going to get dinged for being the sixth “Terminator” film, even though it’s the third one. So I was disappointed but not surprised.
Guerrasio: When you came on the project was it already established that the other movies were going to get essentially erased from the canon and this one would take place after the events of “T2”?
Miller: When I came onto the project Jim [Cameron] had not even decided to come back. There were a lot of rights issues, who had what rights, and it was messy. So when I came in it was sort of blank page. [Skydance Media CEO] David [Ellison] asked me to rebuild the franchise. I told him that two things were very important to me: that Jim comes back and that we continue the “T2” story. Many people made different choices since then, which is fine, but I didn’t want to feel beholden to those choices.
Guerrasio: And is it true that while you were filming it wasn’t decided yet if the movie would be PG-13 or R rated, so there was talk at one point that the movie be released simultaneously in a PG-13 cut and an R cut?
Miller: You’re absolutely right, which I think was slightly problematic but overall I think it was a good thing. And here’s why: the disparity of budgets that come with PG-13 and R.
Guerrasio: And not to mention box-office projections.
Miller: Totally. So we didn’t decide to make it an R movie until we were into post. That meant I got all the benefits of making a PG-13 movie in terms of budget and scope and then we switched it to R, which is what we all hoped for.
(L-R) Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes in “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
Guerrasio: So when you were shooting did you basically act like you were making an R movie and if that didn’t happen you would tweak in post?
Miller: I would have just used alternate takes. Say I did five takes of a moment, four of them would have “f–k” in it and one of them would not have it. I didn’t think we would do an R because of the temperature at the studio and Skydance, so worse case we do an R-rated release along with a PG-13. So we did talk about a simultaneous release.
Guerrasio: But why does everyone eventually agree it should just go out as R?
Miller: This is going to sound arrogant, I don’t mean it to be, but I do I feel a little bit indirectly responsible for that. “Deadpool” was successful at an R rating, that allowed “Logan” to be made with an R rating, and because “Logan” made more money than any PG-13 Wolverine movie I think there was a realization that some stories are meant to be told a certain way. The DNA of “Terminator” is R rated, and when you change that the fans punish you for it because they feel the false step.
Guerrasio: I don’t think you should feel arrogant at all because I was going to ask, through all this back and forth on if “Dark Fate” should be R or not, couldn’t that all have stopped by you speaking up and saying, “Guys, I made ‘Deadpool’ as an R, why are we f-ing around?”
Miller: [Laughs.] If only I had that kind of juice, oh would I use it. But we did make the case that there are two directors who have made enough money on R-rated movies to justify the budget of “Terminator.” One of them is directing the movie and the other created the franchise.
Guerrasio: How difficult is it to make a movie with a time-travel element in it?
Miller: Well, I think you can do it poorly and make it really confusing because by its nature it’s a confusing structure. We had a lot of conversations and a lot of complexity in making it simple because I don’t believe the audience wants to hear a lot of exposition and theoretical talk about time travel.
Terminator: Dark Fate – Official Trailer (2019) – Paramount Pictures
Guerrasio: But give me a glimpse behind the scenes, were there some involved with the movie who really wanted to go far out in regards to time travel?
Miller: Everybody was pretty on board with keeping it simple. At the beginning of the writers’ room, Linda hadn’t agreed to come back. Jim had to make that call to Linda and he didn’t get a no, let’s say, so that made us go down that road feeling she would eventually say yes. The biggest discussion with Jim was at some point there has to be a first time that someone comes from the future. Is Dani (the person the Terminator is on the hunt for, played by Natalia Reyes) a natural in this movie? Is everything that’s happening to her happening for the first time? And that was really the decision to be made, which Jim held onto for a while but I immediately knew we couldn’t do it. Jim really wanted to try to do that and eventually he came around. It wouldn’t have worked when you add in certain plot points in the movie that Grace (a soldier from the future ordered to protect Dani, played by Mackenzie Davis) knows. Future Dani wouldn’t know all that stuff if this was the first time.
Guerrasio: That’s what I mean by time travel getting messy.
Miller: But we do think all that s–t out. For instance, you get dinged in a few reviews when people say, “Why are they calling them Terminators when it’s a new future,” and I thought about that. Dani calls them Terminators because when she meets up with Sarah, she calls them Terminators. So Grace calls them Terminators because Dani called them that. So the cycle makes sense.
Guerrasio: How has the experience of “Deadpool 2” and making this movie made you grow as a filmmaker?
Miller: That’s a tough question to answer. I honestly don’t feel I’m any different a person than I was before I made “Deadpool.” I felt pretty fortunate then. I had a good career in visual effects, I own my own company and get to work with artists everyday. What I love about the live-action filming experience is it’s an intense experience that creates these relationships with people. Many people have said it was the best movie they worked on in terms of the experience, because we have a good time on set. I have some fights with the people above me in the chain of command but never below. Then you’re a dick. Save the anger and fight the people above you. I don’t shy away from that. I feel I used my 15 minutes of fame to collect the greatest concentration of nerd projects ever. I’m the luckiest guy around.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
For the entirety of his Marine Corps career, Donnie Dunagan feared his fellow Marines discovering his pre-Corps life. The last thing he wanted was to be known forever as “Major Bambi.” It was a nightmare he’d harbored for 21 years of Marine Corps service – and it almost came out just weeks before retirement.
Donnie Dunagan as a Marine Corps officer in 1974.
Dunagan was a Marine recruiter’s dream – except he was never recruited. He was drafted into the Corps in 1952, which certainly made his life interesting, but it was already interesting. As a young child, Dunagan’s family struggled with poverty in Tennessee. After young Dunagan won 0 in a talent competition, the family moved to Hollywood where he became something of a child star. His last role was as the voice of Disney’s beloved baby fawn, the title role of Bambi.
His Hollywood past was a sharp contrast to his teen years. He earned money as a lathe operator in a boardinghouse before being drafted into the Marine Corps. But he took to the life of a Marine. He was promoted 13 times in his 21 years, which was a record at the time. He was also the youngest drill instructor to ever don the campaign hat. All the while, he harbored a secret he was desperate to keep from his fellow Marines.
He fought three tours in Vietnam and over the years earned a promotion to Major along with a Bronze Star and three Purple hearts. A few weeks before he was set to retire from the Corps, secret intact, he was called into his CO’s office. The CO wanted him to “audit the auditors” – and When the Major asked when he would ever have the time to do what his commander asked, the CO patted a big red folder and said:
“You will audit the auditors. Won’t you, Maj. Bambi?”
His secret finally caught up to him.
“I have some holes in my body that God didn’t put there. I got shot through my left knee. Got an award or two for saving lives over time,” Dunagan told StoryCorps. “But I think I could have been appointed as the aide-de-camp in the White House, it wouldn’t make any difference — it’s Bambi that’s so dear to people.”
Troops are very acquainted with using blank rounds. We slap in a magazine filled with them, screw on a blank-firing adapter (or BFA), and continue training for the day. Without fail, we go out and someone inevitably takes a photo of themselves trying to look all badass like in the movies — but they can’t. That BFA just looks ridiculous and lets everyone know immediately that they’re just training.
So if you really want to look as badass as they do in the movies, you have to look at how the special effects teams on a film set do it. They’re obviously not firing actual, live rounds at each other during the film’s climactic ending — that’d violate so many safety regulations and break countless union rules — but to us, the audience, it feels real.
They’re firing firing blanks, just like the troops in training, but they’ve some ingenious ways of hiding that fact.
When you put the flash hider back on, you can’t tell the difference unless you’re up close and personal.
(Combat Disabled Veteran’s Surplus)
Most semi-automatic firearms use the gas expelled from ejected rounds to cycle in another round. Blank rounds don’t create enough gas pressure in the barrel to make this happen, so, if you’re firing blanks, you need a blank-firing adapter. Firing without a BFA will inevitably cause a failure-to-feed.
The BFA acts more as a plug for the gas. It keeps in just enough gas to build the pressure needed in the chamber for a person to continue shooting without interruption while still letting enough oxygen in.
On a film set, however, you can’t have the actors looking like they’re troops in basic (unless that’s what the film is about). Instead, they screw a tiny blank-firing adapter onto the end of the barrel, underneath the flash hider, as shown below.
If you love ‘Sons of Anarchy’… just don’t hit pause during the gunfights of the first season. Yikes.
Other film sets use entirely decommissioned firearms that have been repurposed as production weapons. Propsmasters will replace most of the assembly with components that require less gas pressure to function. These are close copies, but, ultimately, they’re just replicas — and enthusiasts can tell.
People who’ve been around firearms can quickly spot when filmmakers add an abundance of flash coming out of the muzzle. But it’s a known inaccuracy and it’s done with a purpose. Films, in general, are shown (and often captured) at a rate of 24 frames per second. Without enhancing the muzzle flash, there’s a good chance that the camera won’t capture a flash at all — and that visual bang is an important part of selling the illusion of real gunfire.
But then there are the films crews that skip all of these mechanical steps and add the flashes and sound effects entirely in post-production. It’s comparatively cheaper when you factor in the costs of safety crews and whatnot, but the results aren’t always so great…
An interesting and positive side note: Lee’s stunt double, who’d also replace him for the rest of the film was Chad Stahelski, the man who’d later direct John Wick.
Which leads us to the elephant in the room — the incident that took place on the set of 1994’s The Crow, which lead to the death of the actor Brandon Lee. One of the special effects guys tried to save time and money by making their own blank rounds from live .44 rounds. The weapon they were using on set was an actual handgun and made use these modified rounds. Well, one day, it didn’t work perfectly and a piece of the cartridge broke off and got lodged in the barrel. No one bothered to inspect the firearm or clean it. They tossed it aside and carried on with production.
A few days later, when they needed more firearms for a bigger scene, they grabbed that same handgun. Loaded with another home-made blank and with that fragment of the cartridge still in the barrel, a stunt actor fired it at Lee. Since his character was supposed to react to the shot (and Lee was known for being a gifted actor) no one noticed that Lee had actually been shot until well after the camera stopped rolling.
Though nothing can undo the tragedy that befell Brandon Lee, the silver lining is that firearms have since been treated with more care on set. Many safety regulations are now in place to prevent such a horrible tragedy from happening again.
The newest teaser for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” contains a climactic moment that has fans buzzing: Rey wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber.
Disney debuted the new look at the upcoming movie, which hits theaters in December 2019, over the weekend at its biannual fan event D23 Expo. Now that the teaser is available on YouTube, fans are going wild with theories about Rey’s possible turn to the dark side.
The Force-sensitive heroine has historically used a single-bladed blue lightsaber, which formerly belonged to Anakin and Luke Skywalker.
The “Star Wars” franchise has always taken lightsaber ownership very seriously, so it makes sense that fans are analyzing Rey’s new weapon.
“We take to heart the lesson that Obi-Wan tried to impart to Anakin: ‘This weapon is your life.’ We’re not ones to lose track of lightsabers,” Lucasfilm Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo told Vanity Fair in 2017.
The movies have hinted at Rey’s connection to the dark side before
In many ways, Rey is drawn as a parallel to Kylo Ren, a powerful servant of the dark side.
It’s still unclear, however, whether their similarities are because Rey is drawn towards the dark side or because of Kylo’s remaining connection to the light side. It could also be rooted in a secret familial relationship, since Kylo Ren was born Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa — and eventual student of Luke Skywalker.
Writer Sarah Sahim also noticed that Rey’s weapon on the poster for “The Force Awakens” is literally drawn parallel to Kylo’s red lightsaber, creating a clear resemblance to the double-bladed red lightsaber.
The red lightsaber could mean that Rey will turn to the dark side — and fans are kind of into it
Subtle details from the teaser have led some fans to believe Rey will actually embrace the dark side in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Rey’s theme music is played in a deeper, darker key, for instance. The footage is narrated by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader’s breathing can be heard in the background just moments before “dark Rey” appears.
Even though a turn to the dark side would be detrimental to her heroic arc, many “Star Wars” fans were captivated by the image of “dark Rey.”
Some believe the moment in the teaser is a “Force vision”
Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson is more convinced of the vision theory. Replying to Romain on Twitter, she attached a photo of Luke’s Force vision from the Dagobah cave, where he sees his own face wearing Darth Vader’s beheaded helmet.
The image of “dark Rey” could be a warning, showing the young hero what she could become and has to avoid.
The “dark Rey” image could also be Force vision for Kylo. It’s possible that Kylo secretly fears that the dark side will win, or the image is being used by Palpatine to manipulate him — in Romain’s words, “to taunt the poor boy about what could have been.”
Another theory is that Rey, or a Rey clone, will be possessed by Emperor Palpatine or another Sith lord
We already know that Palpatine will play a major role in the upcoming film. In addition to narrating the trailer, he’s shown as a massive and menacing presence on the newly released poster.
Palpatine could somehow possess Rey and force her towards the dark side.
Alan Johnson, the Director of Influencer Relations at WB Games, believes that “dark Rey” is one of many Rey clones.
“I still think Rey is a clone and the Sith version from the new ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ trailer is a clone that has been activated and possessed by Emperor Palpatine,” he wrote on Twitter. “The vision she had in ‘The Last Jedi’ screamed ‘clone’ to me at the time.”
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
If you’re looking for something new to stream and you have a thing for quasi-propagandist cartoons based on action figures produced near the end of the Cold War, then boy have we got some good news for you.
Hasbro uploaded 15 episodes of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero to YouTube, free of charge. It’s most interesting to adults as a relic of the ’80s, but it’s still a pretty entertaining cartoon for kids, the kind of thing you can imagine latchkey kids across the country switching on when they arrived home from school.
‘The Cobra Strikes’ The M.A.S.S. Device Pt. 1 | G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Ninety-five episodes of the show were produced between 1983 and 1986, and a 44-episode revival came around just three years later. But so far, just 15 have made it to Hasbro’s YouTube channel. And while we’re not complaining (they’re free, after all), it would also be nice for more episodes to regularly make it online, at least until it’s safe to leave the house.
Three five-episode miniseries are available at the moment. “The M.A.S.S. Devices” contains the first episodes of the show ever broadcasted. They tell a vaguely James Bond-esque story of G.I. Joe’s race to build a weaponized satellite to rival the weaponized satellite Cobra (i.e. the bad guys) is planning to use to destroy New York City.
‘The Cobra Strikes’ The M.A.S.S. Device Pt. 1 | G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
“The Revenge of Cobra” aired a year later, and it’s completely different; it centers on gathering the pieces of a device that controls the weather, not a deadly satellite. Repeated story concerns aside, this one culminates in an episode calls “Amusement Park of Terror,” and who doesn’t want to watch that?
‘In the Cobra’s Pit’ The Revenge of Cobra Pt. 1 | G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
G.I. Joe isn’t a bad way to spend about 340 minutes of quarantine, and not just because you don’t have to pay for it. Kids get an action-packed cartoon and adults get the amusement of watching something nostalgic and ridiculous. What’s not to love?
Few things have the power to transport people like the cinema.
Who can forget Robert Williams’ “Good morning, Vietnam” or Marine Corps DI Hartman’s memorable quotes?
The following list is of our favorite military movies to watch over Fourth of July weekend.
“The Longest Day” (1962)
“The Longest Day”tells the story of heroism and loss that marked the Allies’ successful completion of the Normandy Landings on D-Day during World War II.
The film stands out due to its attention to detail, as it employed many Axis and Allied D-Day participants as advisers for how to depict the D-Day landings in the movie.
“Lawrence Of Arabia” (1962)
Based on the exploits of British Army Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence during World War I, “Lawrence of Arabia” tells the story of Lawrence’s incredible activities in the Middle East.
The film captures Lawrence’s daring, his struggles with the horrific violence of World War I, and the incredible British role in the foundation of the modern Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
“The Great Escape” (1963)
“The Great Escape” is based on a novel of the same name, which was a nonfiction account of a mass escape from a German prison camp in Poland during World War II. The film follows several British German prisoners of war as they try to escape from the Nazis and make their way back to Allied-controlled territory.
“The Dirty Dozen” (1967)
Extremely loosely inspired by true acts during World War II, “The Dirty Dozen” tells the story of 12 Army convicts trained for a nearly impossible mission deep in Nazi-occupied France before D-Day, and the film follows their exploits in training and beyond.
“MASH” is a black comedy set on the frontlines of the Korean War. The story follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers as they carry out their mission against the bleak backdrop of the seemingly ceaseless conflict miles from their position.
A movie documenting the life and exploits of General George S. Patton.
A wartime hero of World War II, the film covers Patton’s exploits, accomplishments, and ultimate discharge.
“The Deer Hunter” (1978)
“The Deer Hunter” follows the story of a trio of Russian-American steelworkers both in Pennsylvania before their service and during the Vietnam War.
The film, which stars Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken, won multiple awards, including the Academy Award for best picture, best director, and best supporting actor for Walken.
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)
Featuring an all-star cast (Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper) and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, “Apocalypse Now” is a modern adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s classic “Heart of Darkness.”
Set in Vietnam in 1970, the film shows to what depths men will sink during wartime.
“Das Boot” (1981)
“Das Boot” is a German film depicting the service of German sailors aboard fictional submarine U-96. The story has been lauded for personalizing the characters during World War II by showing both the tension of hunting ships, as well as the tedium of serving aboard submarines.
“Top Gun” (1986)
Starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, “Top Gun” follows Cruise as he attends the Top Gun aviation school. An aggressive but extremely competent pilot, Cruise competes throughout his training to become the best pilot in training. The film was selected in 2015 by the Library of Congress for preservation due to its cultural significance.
“Platoon,” featuring Charlie Sheen, depicts the horrors and difficulties of the Vietnam War. The movie both shows the difficulty in locating potential insurgents in a civilian population, as well as the strains and struggles war can place on brothers-in-arms.
“Good Morning Vietnam” (1987)
Loosely based on a true story, “Good Morning Vietnam” is a comedy-drama starring Robin Williams as a radio DJ in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
Williams earned an Academy Award for best actor.
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, “Full Metal Jacket” follows two new recruits as they enter bootcamp during the Vietnam War. From depicting the struggles of training to the savagery of war, “Full Metal Jacket” remains a timeless classic.
Featuring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman, “Glory” follows the US’s first all African American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance.
“The Hunt For Red October” (1990)
Based on Tom Clancy’s bestselling novel, “The Hunt For Red October” is set during the last stages of the Cold War.
The film stars Sean Connery as a rogue Soviet naval captain who is attempting to defect to the US with the Soviet Union’s most advanced nuclear missile submarine.
“Schindler’s List” (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Liam Neeson, “Schindler’s List” tells the true story of how businessman Oskar Schindler evolves from seeing Jews as nothing but human chattel to doing his best to save as many Jews from Nazi death camps as possible during the Holocaust. The film, based on a true story and painfully told, won the Academy Award for best picture.
“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Tom Hanks, “Saving Private Ryan” showcases both the brutality of World War II while also paying tribute to the amazing courage and honor that each person can rise to. The movie won Spielberg an Academy Award in 1999 for best director.
“Three Kings” (1999)
Featuring Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg, and George Clooney, “Three Kings” shows a stark depiction of life on the ground in Kuwait and Southern Iraq following the end of the Gulf War.
The movie depicts the brutality that Iraqis faced from the regime of Saddam Hussein after trying to rise up against the government at the end of the war.
“Black Hawk Down” (2001)
Directed by Ridley Scott, “Black Hawk Down” follows the tragic exploits of US special forces that were sent into Somalia on a peacekeeping mission in 1993. The movie won the Academy Award for best film editing in 2002.
“Jarhead,” directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, depicts a realistic look at the mix of drudgery and tension that exists for soldiers in a war zone.
The movie spans from the late 1980s through the US involvement in the Gulf War.
“Downfall” depicts the end of the European stage of World War II from inside Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. The movie depicts Hitler’s final days as he, and his fellow high-ranking Nazis, realize the futility of their position in the war and the end of the Third Reich.
“Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War” (2005)
“Tae Guk Gi” follows the tale of two South Korean brothers during the start of the Korean War. Drafted into combat, the older brother continuously volunteers for the most dangerous missions in exchange for his little brother’s safety. But, as the movie depicts, such constant violence takes the toll of all involved.
“Letters From Iwo Jima” (2006)
Directed by Clint Eastwood, “Letters From Iwo Jima” tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective. The film is a companion to Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags Of Our Fathers,” which also tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima but from the American perspective.
“Beasts Of No Nation” (2015)
Released on Netflix, “Beasts of No Nation” is based on a book of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. Set in an unnamed West African country, the film depicts the horror of civil war and the use of child soldiers.
The film is told from the point of view of the child soldier Agu, played by Abraham Attah, as he attempts to survive and is forced to fight in the war.
Godzilla’s roar has long been considered one of cinema’s most iconic and recognizable sounds. Oft-copied or otherwise homaged, the original and rather unique roar terrified audience goers in the 1950s and has been built upon to dramatic effect in the numerous sequels and remakes since. So how did they actually make the original sound and where did the idea for Godzilla come from in the first place?
As for the idea behind the monster, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was looking for a project to work on after another film he was involved with got scrapped. Given the popularity of such films as King Kong among Japanese audiences, he decided to create a similarly themed movie. Except in this case, the monster would function as a not so subtle metaphor for the devastation of nuclear destruction and its radioactive aftermath ‚ hence Godzilla being a prehistoric creature awakened and energized by atomic explosions, and who in turn shoots a radioactive heat beam out of its mouth, leaving a wake of death and destruction, with many survivors in turn suffering from radiation sickness.
As for the final version of the creature itself (and, yes, while in Western versions Godzilla is generally referred to as a “he”, in the Japanese versions the creature is an “it”), before the iconic design we know today was settled on there were differing ideas on how to best realise the monster. An idea that was proposed early on before being eventually rejected was to make Godzilla resemble a large gorilla/whale hybrid, more or less mimicking the whole King Kong thing, but making the animal somewhat amphibious too. (Note here, the name Godzilla ultimately derives from the Japanese name “Gojira”, which is in turn a portmanteau of “whale” and “gorilla”.)
Behind the scenes photograph from the set of Godzilla Raids Again.
This whale/gorilla hybrid idea was initially proposed by Tanaka. However, when an artist was brought in to create a design for the creature based on this general idea, it was quickly rejected because the results ended up looking too human-like; they wanted something much more unique and ancient looking.
Switching it up, sculptor Teizo Toshimitsu and art director Akira Watanabe decided to base the design of Godzilla on that of dinosaur, specifically the T-Rex, with elements of other dinosaurs such as the Iguanodon and modern reptiles like the alligators thrown in. On top of that, to double down on the atomic radiation association, they put keloid scars all over its body, which would have been familiar to Japanese audiences, with these scars commonly showing up on survivors of the nuclear blasts.
As for Godzilla’s exaggerated dorsal fins, these originally were not meant to serve any purpose in the 1954 film, and were simply added to give the creature a more distinctive silhouette. However, it would ultimately be established that they can be used by Godzilla to absorb nearby radiation or even as a weapon.
After creating the monster, Godzilla needed a voice. As it was designed to be an unnatural combination of various creatures both alive and dead, the sound crew found it especially difficult to come up with something that worked for its roar. According to famed composer Akira Ifukube, who created both Godzilla’s roar, the sound of its footsteps, and composed the film’s soundtrack, sound engineers went to a local zoo and recorded the roars and cries of virtually every animal there to try to come up with something usable.
They then tried a number of combinations of these sounds to create something distinct, failing each time because the resulting roar always sounded too familiar. Ikufube notes that the engineers eventually got so desperate they even tried distorting the cries of random animals like herons to the point that they were unrecognisable, but nothing was satisfactory.
The problem, at least in Ikufube’s eyes, was that the roars of other animals, even when heavily distorted, still sounded too natural. What they really wanted was a unique sound like nothing ever heard from an animal before, but still animal-like, and a little terrifying. Thus, scrapping all the previous sounds, despite working under an incredibly tight deadline, Ikufube decided to look at other potential means to make the roar. For the solution, he states, “For the roar of Godzilla, I took out the lowest string of a contrabass and then ran a glove that had resin on it across the string…. The different kinds of roars were created by playing the recording of the sound that I’d made at different speeds.”
And just as a brief aside here when talking about the tight deadline in scoring movies in Japan at the time, when asked about whether his now iconic music for Godzilla was among his favorite compositions, Ikufube stated,
Unlike American film score composers, Japanese film score composers are given only three or four days in which to write the music for a movie. Because of this, I have almost always been very frustrated while writing a score. I therefore can’t select any of my scores as favorites.
Going back to the roar, the resin on the glove helped create the added friction needed while being dragged across the string to make a noticeably grating sound that would hopefully cause a feeling of unease in those who heard it— akin to nails on a chalkboard, but with a lot more depth.
Attempting to recreate some version of Ikufube’s sounds for the 2014 version, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, who created the new roar, stated, “We dissected that original roar and figured out exactly which key musically it was in, which is a C to D on the piano, and the finishing bellow that has the same notes on a lower octave. We figured out the timing, cadence and musical pitch of that original roar, and then started to experiment with different ways to re-create it.”
After a whopping six months of experimenting, they settled on a combination of sounds, though as to how they came up with them, they’ve promised to take that secret with them to the grave. Said Aadahl, “I think more so than any other sound effect we’ve designed, we have a certain protectiveness over that sound. It’s when you’re giving voice to something, you’re giving it its soul. And if we tell everybody exactly how we did it, people will think of that when they hear the roar, and we want them to think of Godzilla.”
Scene from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
That said, what little they have revealed is that the sound, much like Ikufube’s, was the product of friction using something man-made, rather than modifying an animal sound. They also note that over the course of their experiments they played with things like car doors with rusty hinges, as well as rubbing the heads of drums, among other things. They further state they found that using the plastic sole from a hiking boot on the strings of a double bass produced the closest they could get to the original roar in their experiments.
During the course of all of this, to get an even more unique sound, Van der Ryn states, “We bought a microphone that was able to record above the range of human hearing. We started experimenting will all different types of sounds — sounds that we couldn’t actually hear when we were recording. But when we slowed them down into the human range of perception, we had an incredible palette of normally invisible sounds that people normally don’t get to hear.”
Finally, to get proper echo sounds, as well as what it would sound like from within a building or a car, etc. (basically different ways it might be heard in the final film), they managed to convince the band Rolling Stones to let them use their tour speakers. They then set everything up outside at various locations at Warner Brothers studios, and simply blared the roars at high volume and recorded the result from various other locations nearby.
Naturally, they got some complaints about this, with Aadahl stating, “The neighbors started tweeting, like, ‘Godzilla’s at my apartment door! And we were getting phone calls from Universal Studios across town, because tour groups were asking, ‘What’s all that commotion going on down in the valley?’ The sound that we were playing actually traveled over 3 miles… 100,000 watts of pure power.”
Going back to the original Godzilla, if you’re wondering about the aforementioned footstep sounds, according to Ikufube, the story behind those was,
One of Toho’s electrical engineers made a simplistic amplifying device some time before production on GODZILLA – KING OF THE MONSTERS got underway. It was just a box that had several coils connected to an amplifier and a speaker in it. When you struck it, the coils would vibrate, and a loud, shocking sound would be created. I accidentally stepped on the device while I was conducting the score for a movie that was produced shortly before GODZILLA – KING OF THE MONSTERS was made. I said, “What the heck is that?” when I heard the noise that was produced. When I was asked to create Godzilla’s footfalls, I decided to use the device.
Ever wonder how they made the sound effect for the lightsaber? Well, wonder no more, sound engineer Ben Burtt states, “In the booth where we projected the films… Those projectors would make a hum. They weren’t running, they were idling, the motors would just sit there with this kind of magical, mysterious humming sound that I thought was musical in a way and I thought that’s probably what a lightsaber would sound like… And I was searching for some other element, and I had a tape recorder with a broken mic cable that the shielding had come off of and when I walked passed a television set in my apartment it picked up the hum from the picture tube directly into the broken wire, and that made a buzz, and I thought, that’s a great buzz, that sounds dangerous… normally a sound person doesn’t want a buzz or a hum, but in this case a buzz and a hum was the answer.”
Moving on to the famous “Star Wars scream”, more properly known as the “Wilhelm Scream”, heard in hundreds of movies, this was created via the vocal talents of Sheb Wooley, perhaps better known for his hit 1958 song “Purple People Eater”. The genesis of the scream was that Wooley had an uncredited part in the first film the scream was heard in, a 1951 film called Distant Drums. At one point during the film, Captain Quincy is leading his soldiers through a swamp when one of them gets attacked and dragged under by an alligator, screaming in the process. During post-production recordings, Wooley recorded various vocal sound effects for the film, including a batch of screams.
So why was it dubbed the “Wilhelm Scream” if the man who did the scream was named Sheb Wooley? After being plucked from the Warner Brothers stock sound library, the scream was used in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River, starring Guy Madison as Private Wilhelm. The sound effect is used when Private Wilhelm is shot in the thigh with an arrow. The scream was nicknamed “Wilhelm” from then on.
The Hollywood tradition / inside joke of purposefully using the Wilhelm scream in a variety of films began with aforementioned sound effects designer Ben Burtt, who worked on numerous films, including Star Wars as noted. He noticed the scream being used in certain Warner Brother’s films, such as Them in 1954, Helen of Troy in 1956, and The Green Berets in 1968. Burtt then began slipping the Wilhelm Scream into every movie he worked on, beginning with George Lucas’s Star Wars: A New Hope. And it just sort of caught on from there.
If you’re thinking about skipping Captain Marveland going straight to Avengers: Endgame, think again. Early reviews of Captain Marvel say that the movie is not only fantastic but that it will be essential viewing for anyone going to see the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s the early consensus, totally free of spoilers for the movie.
Eric Eisenberg, of CinemaBlend, said the movie has “surprises” that audiences won’t see coming.
Steve Weintraub at Collider said the movie made him “So ready for Avengers: Endgame.”
Meanwhile, Anna Klausen of Newsweek, Bustle and The Daily Beastsaid, moviegoers, should “watch closely” for “lots of fun Easter eggs” and links to the “history and other films in the MCU.”
At this point, critics who have seen the movie aren’t able to reveal any spoilers for the film, so what we’re seeing now is general impressions of the film. Elsewhere in the universe, a smattering of trolls who have not seen the film yet are trying to destroy the Rotten Tomatoes Score of Captain Marvel before the movie is released. Several publications have already likened this sexist campaign to what happened around the time The Last Jedi was released. Needless to say, if someone hasn’t seen the movie, and they’re trashing it, we don’t have to spend much time thinking about their opinion.
For the rest of us, it sounds like Captain Marvel might not be a perfect movie, but then again, none of these superhero movies really ever are. And for those of us who have daughters — or just like to see heroes who aren’t dudes — Brie Larson as Carol Danvers can’t come soon enough.
In 2007 I was a fresh-out-to-pasture journalist, trying not to lose my sanity as an Army wife and stay at home mom. I had worked most recently as a reporter for The Fayetteville Observer, but my husband, a Special Forces soldier, kept getting deployed. We couldn’t afford a nanny, and no daycare in town stayed open late enough to watch our son until I could get off work.
The Observer offered me an opportunity to write a blog and two weekly columns from home, and that’s how I came to meet Mike Giglio, a fresh-out-of-college writer for Charlotte Magazine, working on a story about military families at Ft. Bragg.
But back in 2007, he came to my house, sat in my living room, made the requisite comments about the adorableness of my toddler, and interviewed me. He has since told me that I was the first person he had interviewed about war. He has interviewed many, many more people since. He wrote then:
Rebekah Sanderlin looks like an Army wife from a movie: the hero pulls out her picture in the opening scene, she has dark hair, engaging eyes, and a warm smile, she’s holding his kid, and you’re already hoping he makes it out of this thing alive.
12 years and as many deployments later, my husband and I are still married and, indeed, he appears to have made it out of this thing alive.
I followed Giglio’s career from a distance after that, watching as his byline hopped up to the big leagues and then across the ocean, first to London and then to Istanbul, and then right into the heart of war.
Now a journalist for The Atlantic, he spent four years living in Turkey and Syria, interviewing members of the Islamic State, their enablers, and legions of others who were pushing back against ISIS’ terror quest for power, embedding with U.S. military units as well as low-level groups of resistance fighters.
His book is part memoir, part chronicle. We see the early movements of ISIS in the form of sources and scoops that grow into defeats and victories. He is unflinching in the descriptions but avoids the war-porn tendencies lesser writers find irresistible. There are no heroes and no villains, only humans showing up, day after day. Characters come and go, lost to war and the swirling chaos of life. There are no neat and tidy endings. This is news – news never ends.
His sparse, direct, writing style is appropriately like chewing on broken glass. A book about ISIS shouldn’t be overwrought. There’s too much gore, too much horror, too much human misery, for a writer in love with adjectives. No one needs those adjectives.
Of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, he writes:
“So when militiamen kidnapped Ahmed from a checkpoint in Baghdad one day, they didn’t just torture him. They put a circular saw to his forehead and tried to peel off his face. Then they put a hood over his head, shot him five times, and tossed his body in a garbage dump, thinking he was dead. Ahmed survived, though, and was found by an elderly man, who carried him to a hospital. When he recovered, he had gained his nickname – The Bullet, for what couldn’t kill him – and he returned to his turret.
These are not pages to read before bed.
Giglio is captured and nearly executed, and he survives being hit by a suicide bomber. He sets these encounters on the table, like an indifferent dinner party host, as if to say, “Here it is. Make of it what you will.” And, of course, there is only one thing to make of it: ISIS is even worse than you thought.
I read Mike’s book during the vacant, pedestrian, moments of my mom-life. Sitting in my daughter’s gymnastics class, reading about the young Syrian mother who watched helplessly as a wall collapsed on all four of her children during a bombing. In the front seat of my minivan, parked at the high school, waiting for that once-toddler-now-teenager, reading about a man whose seven siblings were all killed by ISIS. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room while a friend’s wrist was being x-rayed, reading about ISIS fighters gathering body parts from numerous people into one duffel bag, only to leave the bag in the middle of a street.
I read about Mike, being zip-tied and beaten by a jeering mob in Egypt, before being thrown into a prison bus and carted to a sports arena, where sham trials and public executions were being held for political prisoners. And then the zip ties are cut from his wrists and he is inexplicably released. I think about the cub reporter I first met in my North Carolina living room, as eager for adventure as any young soldier.
He is in Iraq, embedded with a battalion from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force (ICTF) in Mosul when the results of the 2016 election are announced, and Americans of all political persuasions are melting down. He writes:
“I wondered if, when a country was at war for so long but only a select few ever waged it, the rest of society began to go a certain kind of crazy. Some played at civil war while others vowed to flee to Canada as political refugees, and too many Americans seemed to want to pull a bit of conflict into their lives just when so many people around the world were risking everything to escape from it.”
And then he finally escapes it himself, perhaps for good, writing this about then-new President Trump’s premature declaration of victory over ISIS: “As in the past, America was looking to move on from the region before the war was really over – leaving much of Iraq and Syria in ruins and ISIS still a threat. This was an impulse I embodied, too. As Colonel Arkan had once explained, the thing about going to war far from home is that you can always walk away from it.”
If you’re lucky, Mike. Only the lucky get to walk away.