Objectionable Burma - why ?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Maurice McCone, May 11, 2003.

  1. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    this film is to be released on the 13th, and in response to a thread over at the software forum, I am starting this thread to discuss the central objection , many people have against this film.

    ie that it uses an objectionable licence in replacing the victorious British and Commonwealth forces who fought this terrible campaign...with a fictional outfit of American troops led by Flynn, who apparently win this conflict without help from anyone else.
    This can be nothing but offensive for relatives of those Comonwealth soldiers whose actions are being 'denied ' by such film making.

    This thread is not anti American, lets make this clear !!!

    However, I am interested in the views of others as to the continuence of irresponsible film-making such as this ; which has continued with films such as U-571 which wrote out of history (except for a minor end credit) the brave Royal Navy Lt. who ACTUALLY did capture the first Enigma machine.

    There are also rumours of another Colditz film , this time staring many other nationals other than the British, Poles and French who suffered and escaped from that prison.

    Another poster, Andrew, on the other thread gave the example of a film showing the British Royal Marines capturing Iwo Jima ...this would be thought deeply offensive and righly so....does the forum acept that this should never happen the other way round ?
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Maurice,
    It depends on the film. A couple of years ago, I was taken aback about the historical inaccuracies of the film "Pearl Harbor", especially when they covered the Doolittle Raid in the film. However, since then my distaste for the film has soften due to the realization that "Pearl Harbor" was made for pure entertainment value and not necessarily to salute those that participated in both of those events with any type of historical accuracy.

    I view "Objective Burma" as a similar type movie that was filmed as an action film with a propaganda theme for American audiences during WWII. If you look at the film in the whole context of it, the film starts off with actual footage of Allied Armed Forces preparing their Southeast Asia campaign against the Japanese not only in Burma but in China too. They showed footage of British military leaders Admiral Mountbatten and General Wingate along with American generals Joe Stillwell and Frank Merrill preparing for the campaign. However, most of this film focused on one American platoon of paratroopers blowing up a radar station and their plight to escape to freedom afterwards.


    Yes, the filmmakers could have probably done a better job of showing the joint action of Allied forces during the Burma invasion at the end of the film, but they didn't, maybe because the film was essentially made for American filmgoers with an American cast. Well, at least they had a British officer briefing the platoon before the mission and a Chinese officer and two Gurkhas soldiers participating in the mission with the Americans.

    Remember, the Burma campaign was fought for almost four years. The British were involved with most of the fighting, but most of the allied troops involved were not only actual British and American troops. Many of the allied troops were made up of Indian, Burmese, Chinese, Chins, Gurkhas, Kachins, Karens, Nagas and black troops from British East and West Africa.

    "Objective Burma" is not an historical account of the Burma Campaign, but instead an action film focused on the actions of one American platoon. I view this film as something similar to films like "Never So Few" and "Merrill's Marauders". Anybody that wants more of an historical perspective need to read some history books or watch the History Channel for actual details.




    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert, thanks for your comments, and I do think that there is some merit in your point that the film purports only to tell one story of one particular patrol; however, the contempory feelings that this caused must not be underestimated, resulting in a rare ban for this film in Britain at a painful time in our history.

    The principal of presenting history acurately, or at least not stealing other peoples exploits should be preserved.

    I for one had no problem with Saving Private Ryan, ignoring the considerable job done on D-Day by the British and Canadians; this brilliant film afterall, was made by Americans and focused on a particular patrol which was active in the American sector of Normandy.
    However, I would share the dissapointment of many that whilst leaving the British effort out of the story - Spielberg allowed the single line reference to the 'underated Montgomery, and his poor advance', to stand as the only comment on a herioc British effort on the day.

    The film U-571 and 50 years ago, Objective Burma, caused great offense, I would just hope that lessons would have been learned in those years. Saying U-571 was a work of fiction, does not justify the confusion and misdirection that such work leaves in todays cinema generation who are unlikely to read the truth for themselves.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    You won't find much of that in many films and it's been that way for as long as movies have been made. If you're offended by such actions then be prepared to be offended again and again by Hollywood.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Hollywood is in the entertainment business to make money and if they can do so by rewriting history a bit to maximize their marketing penetration then so be it. Going to the movies is mainly about being entertain not about getting a history lesson.

    Also, whatever criticism about "Saving Private Ryan" in regard to it's film focus about an American squad is a stretch to me. This film was made not to be compared to "The Longest Day" which detail the roles of more individuals and nations during the invasion.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    In Operation Burma, although there is mention of the Brit contribution in the movie, it's pretty slight, and the overall impression to anyone who doesn't know their history is that it was primarily an American action.

    Let's take a bang-up-to-date analogy. Just suppose that the Brits made a movie about the taklng of Baghdad, in which after a few initial shots of the Coalition leaders, we saw brave Tommies taking the city. There would understandably be outrage amongst Americans. That should give you some idea of the contemporary Brit reaction to Operation Burma. This wasn't just popular prejudice, BTW - Mountbatten himself tried to have the film banned.

    I think the danger is that we Brits can appear to be falling back on memories of the Empire and wounded pride. This would be understandable but wrong. Brits generally respond well to movies about American wartime heroism - it's just that occasionally there's a really gross anachronism that offends (FWIW, U-571 is the only one that really makes me cross). Any Americans reading this must not get the idea that we constantly are like this about all war movies in which the action centres on American troops - it's really is just the grossly inaccurate movies that annoy us. And to be honest, if Brits had a record of making such equally inaccurate movies about WWII, I think Americans would feel just the same in reverse.

    Please just accept that Operation Burma is on a *small* list of movies that are likely to offend Brits.
     
  7. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert, I can accept that Hollywood will often by necessity make changes to history - it is noticeably in the 'one direction'. Can you imagine Apollo 13 featuring 3 brave Sandhurst trained British oficers ? if you can then you can imagine some of the slight that we feel at the theft of our own heroes.

    As it is a generation of British kids believe that the most important single action of WW2 - the capture of an Enigma machine - was carried out by Matthew McConaghy, and not a very brave young Royal Navy Lt. who climbed alone into a dark U-boat in the middle of an ocean.....its just wrong.
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Okay it's wrong ,so where does that leave us as filmgoers? Also, I still enjoyed all the films mentioned as they are which is action films.
     
  9. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    sadly I quite enjoyed U-571 as well, but frankly, if the British Gov had decided to ban it, I would not have had a problem with that either, maybe it takes that for film makers to act responsibly.
    Afterall, they have suddenly stopped having Islamic fundamentalists or Muslems as the enemy, haven't they ? too politically 'hot' for them.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Doing so would only cause more Americans to see the film and wonder what's the big deal about.





    Crawdaddy
     
  11. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  12. andrew markworthy

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    Robert, I seriously doubt if American audiences would just enjoy a Brit historical action movie as an action movie if there was a considerable rewriting of history against the USA in it. However, as this has never happened, we can only conjecture.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Agreed, so again I ask, where does this discussion go from here?
     
  14. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    I think Americans are such Anglophiles (generally speaking) that they wouldn't mind a movie abotu British military heroes so long as it's a war Americans would be familiar with.

    That said, the English can make movies taking credit for thigns the US did if they want

    The movie that offends me in regards to historical accuracy is The Patriot. Making up Mel Gibson's character doesn't bother me, but the way they portrayed the British struck me a rather poor taste considering our countries' current relationship. If it were accurate, that would one thing, but you can't go making that sort of thing up.
     
  16. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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  17. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    Bjorn, I too enjoyed Heroes of Telemark, I was not aware that it underplayed the Norwegian efforts.

    The film shows the plane full of Brit commandoes crashing and the main attack being performed by Norwegians, the facts may be wrong but at least the Brits and Americans don't take credit for this vital action.

    As for the Patriot, the depiction of the Brits in this is despicable.

    It shows British troops burning a village to death locked in a barn. This never happened in this war. The example we all know is that this actually happened in WW2, when the SS burned and muredered a French village, locking the women and children into the church.
    The fact the Roland Emmerich was behind the Patriot, you think he would be more shameful than to attribute such attrocities to another country , that his own countrymen commited.

    Once again we are left with the conclusion that Hollywood picks on Brits, as it is too sensitive and un-PC to pick on Muslims, Germans etc... even when these nationalities are portrayed as the villains as in True Lies, Die Hard 1 & 3.. they are played by British actors for goodness sake !
     
  18. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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  19. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Maurice, it wasn't a barn, it was a church, which makes it all the more offensive and implausible.
     
  20. Larry Schneider

    Larry Schneider Second Unit

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    In the 1950s there was a British film called "Breaking the Sound Barrier" wherein the first supersonic flight was made by a British test pilot - there's at least one instance of the opposite situation.

    I wish they'd remake The Cruel Sea, myself. There's a corvette at Halifax, I think.
     

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