First off: more filmmakers should give coloring non-fiction footage a go. Second: I wonder what the surviving vets thought after the Second World War broke out and the enemy became considerably more “clear-cut”.
Third: what a sobering spectacle to see. Seeing this once before after the film sailed in pirate seas the first time, it was such a gripping experience, to see that most of those soldiers are about my age by the end of it, thrust into a war they thought was a lot less brutal than what they saw at the front. I thought those kids were genuinely a bit more naive at first, but to see them evolve into battle-hardened men for a fight they shouldn’t be fighting has a certain effect on me. The second viewing, which I did just now, carried extra information about production, how the in-battle dialog was added in, among other challenges to make sure every aspect of the film succeeded in showing a war in color. It renewed my appreciation for the accomplishment I was seeing, and put the sacrifice those men were through into perspective. Of course this was vivid to them. Why else would it not be?
To me, it isn’t the maturity, so much the absurdity that stuns me. All that carnage, terror, shock, and for what? It failed to end war—if anything, it only created a bigger boogeyman, one that soon needed the entire world to stop. These blokes staked their lives for this cause, and whoever came back from all that might have needed to fight again. How galling.
Yet all I could think about afterward is conflict—how I wish our government did fully annoy, pester, bugger China into ceding their claims over our patch of ocean, enough that China will retaliate with enough force for the world to notice. I want to see NATO, or at least its members, react, to know what it says about nations when a superpower decides to enforce sheer will on another, one who itself is a fighter, or at least it used to be. Would the US or EU leave us hanging, or bolster ASEAN ties? Could the Philippines bank on China and South Korea, who themselves are in their own rows among each other and China? Are we that strategic as a nation? As a region? There are peaceful options, and we have the UN ruling to use, but considering China gives no fucks anyway, what if the Philippines went further than mere roundtable negotiation?
I’m pretty sure similar questions were asked in the road to The Great War. Why fight a war? What’s with the aggression and counter-aggression? Is it worth the cost? All those kids who became men...why put them through this, when the rulers could have just compromised? Yet I understand the need to fight, to resist when someone pushes. You wouldn’t want your land to be taken, your freedom, your life. And your family, friends, neighborhood and city don’t want to lose something they hold dear to people willing to take it away.