Thursday, May 26, 2005

Memorial Day Film Festival, Part 1

Over the next few days, into Memorial Day, I plan to share some of my favorite antiwar movies. Tom Ender's beaten me to the punch somewhat with his wonderful review yesterday of Shenandoah, the 1965 Civil War classic starring Jimmy Stewart, which is on my list. Ah well... Great minds think alike, as Bob Wallace told me earlier this week (but that's another story).

I first saw Shenandoah on TV in 1971, and it blew me away. It's truly radical.

The film is about a widowed, mind-your-own-business Virginia farmer named Charlie Anderson (Stewart, in one of his greatest roles). Charlie and his large family are sitting smack dab in the middle of the goddamn war. Charlie's son Jacob remarks early in the movie that the fighting is getting very close. Asks Charlie: "They on our land?" "No, sir," Jacob responds. "Then it doesn't concern us, does it?" says Charlie.

Another highlight (which Tom reminded me of in his review) is when a Confederate lieutenant arrives at the farm to recruit Charlie's sons:

Lieutenant: "Virginia needs all her sons, Mr. Anderson."

Charlie: "That might be so, Johnson, but these are my sons. They don't belong to the state. When they were babies, I never saw the state comin' around here with a spare tit! We never asked anything of the state and never expected anything. We do our own living, and thanks to no man for the right."

Shenandoah sits right at the top of my list of great antiwar movies. It's easily found for rent in both VHS and DVD.


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