If you watch “Casablanca” and “Fury,” you’ll have two very different pictures of World War II. On top of the vastly different settings, everything from technology of filmmaking, to the tone of the film, to the style of acting, to the overall messages and themes–they’re all different. Much of this is simply due to different story lines and the fact that “Casablanca” focuses on romance as well as war, but the different attitudes toward war are palpably different as one was produced 72 years before the other.
In 2014, I read multiple books on a timeline starting before WWI and ending after the Great Depression. I was fascinated at how, sticking to a timeline instead of authors or series, you could see and feel the change of society as a whole, as they entered and exited the Great War. The devastating effects can be read about in the history books, and they can be felt through fiction.
Since movies were my first love, I began to wonder if they would follow similar trends. There are a lot of things that books have that films cannot offer–an in-depth look at a character’s mind, words, using your own imagination to your advantage– to name a few. But there are also things that film can offer that books cannot–a total sensory immersion, the raw emotion as actors play out a scene as a compelling score plays in the background. They both have things to offer, and good artists, be it filmmakers or authors, play to those advantages.
I fired up my Netflix account and tried to see if I could do with films what I had done with early 19th century American literature–after all, 2 hour movies were being produced since well before WWII. To my dismay, many popular old war movies were difficult to find. I wound up subscribing to the Netflix DVD service, which has pretty much every DVD I could possibly be interested in.