How I Won the War (1967)

HOW I WON THE WAR (1967)
Article #1534 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-27-2005
Posting Date: 10-24-2005
Directed by Richard Lester
Featuring Michael Crawford, John Lennon, Roy Kinnear

An incompetent commander recounts his adventures during World War II, unaware of the fact that his own men secretly wish him dead.

I have to admit to having a little trouble with the movies of Richard Lester. Much of it is cultural, though; his movies are very British, and they’re so fast-moving that unless you have a strong ear for the accents, you may find yourself left in the dust. Combine this with the fact that he works in a very non-realistic mode (the characters spend a lot of time talking to the audience and the action pops back and forth in time), and the result is confusion. Yet this confusion may be a plus in this movie; most war movies do have a certain amount of confusion in them, as war itself can be very confusing when you’re in the midst of it. This anti-war movie has an interesting viewpoint in that the main enemy of the soldiers isn’t so much the enemy but their own leaders, and the movie has a certain amount of impact; the death scenes of each character are powerful. The fantastic content is that after each man dies, he does not leave the company, but stays on as a ghost. It’s a pretty grim comedy, but there are some great one-liners, and it’s fun to see John Lennon in a rare acting role. It’s difficult, but worth a look.

Postscript: Thanks to the responses I received from my original posting of this review (which I have left intact above if for no other reason that I intend to let this mistake go on record), I have since learned that Richard Lester is not British, but American. I will admit to being somewhat surprised by this, but I was largely familiar with him through this movie and his Beatles movies. It just goes to show that there’s always something new to learn.

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