Which War?

Doom in the dust, from Raoul Walsh's They Died with Their Boots On (1941). In wide shot, the combatants register not as people, but as clumps of ants; in close-up and medium shot, they stand carefully arranged in recruitment poster poses. Two takes on warfare in counterpoint: the heroic ideal, where distinct and handsome individuals act with purpose, and the messy, inglorious stuff of fear, large-scale death, and group will.

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  • filmcapsule

    Interesting. And the 3rd image from the bottom uses the poses and formations that are iconographic in art of the Revolutionary War and even older European battles.

  • Adam Cook

    Excellent

  • Sunrise

    It looks like there are challenges to the landscape that seem to become secondary once the onslaught of man-to-man occurs. Fascinating, as this was part of the conflict in the real space (despite the fact it’s orientation is somewhat different in reality).

  • Match Cuts

    We need more of these, IV.

  • lemmontage

    Add ons:
    Iconographic? They suggest a battle staged in 1942 to depict 19C U.S.A., perhaps. The complaint is with how a film is staged (perhaps based on a painting or a description in a book) becomes taken to be how things were done which leads to if it is not done that way it is an error. Has the ‘wild west’ changed that much since Hollywood first depicted it? It would be of interest to me to know how the contemporary version of the Hollywood cowboy (soldier) came to be.
    The description, “they register as … ants” is leading; the images in the WS photos are quite distinctly people. In the motion picture version, the figures don’t move at all like ants … personally, I cannot recall ants stirring up dust like men riding on horses. Similarly, ants have never (yes, a bold statement) been described as a charging calvary.
    Recruitment Posters? I understand the notion. Is it true? The soldiers look gallant but mainly on the defensive – not the stuff of recruiting men to be soldiers expected to defeat an enemy.
    They were, in fact, battling for space. The soldiers were part of an offensive to drive the natives from the territory … and one better: the soldiers were part of an offensive to drive the natives into a position whereby they would be ineffective in slowing the economic growth of the U.S.A.. The movie glamourizes the noble efforts of soldiers who paid the ultimate price so others could find their fortunes.

  • Pan32

    Of all the Custer films I have seen Son of the Morning Star gets closest to the reality of what is known today as to the order of battle. Using metal detectors it was possible to locate spent shell casings and as the troopers used Springfield 45/70 single shot rifles and the Indians a variety of other weapons it was possible, along with some survivor descriptions, to get a fairly clear idea of how things went. This film had none of that information of course but the above pictures do show what very generally took place, What is missing I would think is the sheer numbers of Indians, somewhere between 1500 and 2000 and how that would have struck terror in the most courageous of men as Custer died with some 261 of his command as the rest were located a few miles away but because of the terrain could only see the dust so many Indian ponies kicked up. Why they didn’t ride to the rescue makes interesting reading as it points to the animosity between Custer and his top 2 officers. One interesting aspect is that Custer took his brother, a brother-in-law and a 18 yo nephew with him in his bid for glory.

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