Lemme See Your War Face!

We all know the line from the movie full metal jacket when Gunny Hartman screams at Private Joker, “LEMME SEE YOUR WAR FACE” and actor Mathew Modine tries to twist his face into something like a war face but it comes off looking goofy rather than intimidating.

Even Gunny Hartman couldn’t help but say, “You don’t scare me. Work on it.”

Throughout history, warriors have tried to look more frightening to their enemies prior to and during battle.  They have employed paint, tattoos, helmets, and mannerisms to try and make their face appear more bloodthirsty and savage.  Which is kinda curious when you think about it.  Here is a warrior kitted out for battle, with weapons, armor, maybe even an armored horse with an entire army surrounding him.  Do you really need a war face to signal the intent to do bloody violence beyond all that?

The essence of human beings shows on their faces, in battle, you may try to watch where the sword thrust is about to strike but you are looking at his face, a lot.  In movies, the villain with the covered face seems less human and more frightening because we can’t see the human qualities that come out in facial expressions.  At the end, the villain almost never dies without his make being removed.  It’s the closure we need from the end of the bad guy, to see his face and affirm their humanity, and perhaps ours as well.