Shûe Matsubayashi & Hugo Grimaldi – Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi AKA Storm Over the Pacific AKA I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)

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Synopsis:
On December 1, 1941, a Japanese fleet of 30 warships sails for Hawaii; when diplomatic negotiations in Washington fail, the task force commander, Adm. Isoroku Yamaguchi, receives orders to attack Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating aerial assault on December 7, flight navigator Koji Kitami returns to Japan and Keiko, his childhood sweetheart. Although deeply in love with the young woman, Koji fears that marriage will make him less worthy as a naval officer. During the next few months, he participates in many successful raids on U. S. and British ships and planes, but during the battle at Midway he becomes less certain of the invincibility of the Japanese fleet. While he is aboard the carrier Hiryu , the vessel is attacked by U. S. dive bombers and badly damaged. Officers order the ship abandoned, but rather than leave it as a prize of war, a Japanese destroyer is given instructions to sink the carrier. As the Hiryu goes down, Koji and others give a final salute.
— TCM.com Continue reading

Jirí Krejcík – Vyssi princip AKA Higher Principle (1960)

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SYNOPSIS from kviff.com:

Jiří Krejčík’s A Higher Principle, together with Weiss’s film Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (1959), was one of those Czechoslovak films at the forefront of what is characterised in literature as the second wave of war prose. After years of the schematism and trivialisation of heroic pathos, films were gradually appearing towards the end of the 1950s which treated the theme of war with greater intimacy, and the heroism of those who resisted evil and Nazi barbarity was not so apparent at first glance. Krejčík selected a story by Jan Drda written almost immediately after the liberation, whose short text he and the author considerably reshaped. Continue reading

Elmo Nüganen – Nimed marmortahvlil AKA Names Engraved in Marble (2002)

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A friend lent me this film a number of years ago and I remembered liking it very much, but as years went by I was never sure if I liked it because it was a good film or because of fond memories of the friend. I recently got hold of it once again and, have seen it again, realise this is a fine film that deserves to be much better known that it is.

The film is set in Estonia in 1918, as the country fights for indepedence. My guess is that knowledge of the conflict might add more enjoyment to the film, but it’s not essential. The film follows a group of students who volunteer to fight for their country. The narrative concentrates on Henn Ahas, one of the students but not the leader, who is played in a wonderful performance by Priit Voigemast. In fact the performances are all uniformly superb, and the script is tight and switches effectively between scenes of war and more human elements of the story. This is a fine film, which works both as a moving story of comradeship and as a military drama. Continue reading

Elchin Musaoglu – Nabat (2014)

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Nabat and her husband Iskender, an old and sick ex-forestry worker, live in a small isolated house far from the village. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh has been raging for some time and their son has been killed at the front. Their sole means of survival is the sale of milk from their only cow that Nabat takes to the village every couple of days. As the shadow of war envelopes the region the village is slowly deserted by its inhabitants. Following Iskender’s death, Nabat has to survive in a now abandoned village under the regard of a she-wolf. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Al-asfour AKA The Sparrow (1972)

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One of his most controversial films, THE SPARROW was written by Chahine in collaboration with avant-gardist Lofti el-Kholi. Set during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the United Arab Republic this story of familial and national divisions has become one of Chahine’s most popular films in festivals and retrospectives. A young policeman’s adoptive father occupies a high post in the force, while his biological father is reputed to have been a left-wing activist. Raouf begins to search for those who might have known his real father, while his half-brother, stationed on the Sinai front, prepares for battle. Continue reading

Ermanno Olmi – Torneranno i prati AKA Greenery Will Bloom Again (2014)

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Quote:
The winter of 1917, the North-East front, the final clashes of the Great War. An Italian stronghold situated at 1800 metres above sea level, on the Asiago plateau, described in the novels of Mario Rigoni Stern. It’s snowing everywhere; the Austrian trenches are so close that you can hear the enemy soldiers breathing.

A hundred years since the outbreak of World War I, maestro Ermanno Olmi describes with Torneranno i prati his vision of a conflict that cost the lives of 16 million human beings, just as it was brought back to him by the memory of his father, called to arms at 19 years of age, to find himself within the bloodbath of Carso and Piave. A drama that scarred his youth and the rest of his life, just like millions of others. Continue reading