Things to do
Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies
Like many of you, I’ve long wanted to see the Santa hat Jake Gyllenhaal wore on his knob in ‘Jarhead’ up close. So it’s a tribute to the scope of this not-massive show on the history of war in cinema that it gives you the chance to do just that.
In 1916, cameramen were allowed to record the build-up and action of the Battle of the Somme. The resulting film was part documentary, part propaganda. Seen by 20 million people back in Blighty, it inspired, appalled and established many of the themes and paradoxes around the way that war has been shown on screen in the 100 years since.
There’s a lot to see here, from a brilliant montage of changing tastes in depicting D-Day, to Disney’s little-known classic ‘Victory Through Air Power’. There are even – inspired! – the models from Aardman’s ‘Great Escape’ parody ‘Chicken Run’. Among the canonical classics (‘Paths of Glory’, ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’) there are nods to naughty teatime treats such as ‘Where Eagles Dare’, as well as emotive modern outings including ‘War Horse’, although there are significant omissions: no ‘Ivan’s Childhood’, no ‘Come and See’.
Trainspotter types (not me, obviously) will enjoy the artefacts, such as the RAF uniform David Niven wore in ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, and a chair from Rick’s bar in ‘Casablanca’. If the show soft-pedals on the death and maiming of actual battle, it reflects what we’ve learned in 100 years of near-continuous conflict: that we as the audience can only take so much, and t