Al Murray (pub landlord) has a new book coming called “Watching War Films with My Dad”.
Being of not a dissimilar age the title struck a cord with me. My farther was in the RASC from 1944 – 1947 and as a child we watched every War film that was on (and growing up they seemed to be on every Saturday, Sunday and most of the Christmas period).
In retrospect it has always occurred to me as odd someone who witnessed many of the events at the time, and had first hand accounts from his peers he had grown up with, why he (and people of his generation) would be so interested in seeing a “hollywood” re-enactment which one would assume to be on the whole full of annoying inaccuracies.
But the after the war there was a great hunger from returning servicemen for information on the war, they were usually a small piece of a very big jigsaw, the whole picture of what was going on was kept from them. So early war documentary series such as Men in Battle and Epic Battle narrated by Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks proved very popular as it gave an accurate full picture of operations.
This hunger for information was probably part of the initial success of the World at War (which was essential Wallace household viewing on the Sunday night re-run during the 80s). I recently noticed on some history channel trailer the World at War is now 40 years old, its weathered very well and remains very watchable.
That still doesn’t answer why my Dad liked World War 2 films? The war was one of the biggest events in his life, he was part of world history, perhaps he enjoyed projecting himself and his peers into the films? He also liked cowboy films, so perhaps he just liked a good war film for no other reason than entertainment?