“War, huh, good God What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, listen to me!” Those lyrics from Norman Whitfield’s 1970 song “War” pretty much sums up how most of the population feels about it. This perception colored in by theatrical depictions of warfare. Through movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and “We Were Soldiers” we’ve gotten to gaze at the horrors of battle from a distance… But what if I told you the movies aren’t telling the truth? A film director’s goal is to captivate and create a movie that has resonance. To do that they often stretch the truth and sensationalize details.
Here are 5 untrue things people believe about war because of movies.
1. Soldiers build unbreakable bonds
Not saying that many soldiers don’t leave the battlefield as life long friends. But the movies portrayal of war building unbreakable bonds and brotherhood’s is a myth for the most part. Soldiers are human like the rest of us. So jealousy, betrayal, and infighting happens as much as it does when you bring together any large group of people that don’t know each other and have different nationalities and backgrounds.
2. Most of the people on the losing side die
In war movies when the battle is over soldiers wounded bodies litter the battlefield, and most of the enemy combatants have been killed. That’s simply not true. Even in the deadliest battle in history, WWI’s Battle of Verdun, out of the 2.4 million soldiers deployed only 305,000 were killed. The truth is that at the end of a war most soldiers walk away with their lives and limbs.
3. That confirmed kills are a real thing
Nope, confirmed kills aren’t real. It’s a fake stat created by movies so that they can show how bad ass their protagonist and antagonist are. In reality, the military doesn’t keep records of how many enemy combatants a soldier has killed.
4. That soldiers get to shoot first and ask questions later
See an enemy and open fire. That’s the way war movies present battle. However, the rules of engagement are a lot more complicated. And oh yea…the “Rules of Engagement” is an actual rule book with over two dozen pages. Let’s take a look at the war in Iraq for an example of the procedures soldiers have to follow. The rules of engagement in the Iraq war stated that soldiers could only use “proportional force” against people acting in a hostile or aggressive manner. This rule was in place due to the gorilla tactic of wearing civilian clothing used by enemy combatants. To sum it up, the military didn’t want every street in Iraq to resemble a melee from the “Call of Duty” video game. When it comes to war if soldiers don’t get permission from higher-ups or face aggression they don’t have authorization to attack at their heart’s desire.
5. Everyone in the war is fiercely trying to kill each other
In nearly every war movie created members of both opposing sides are actively on a hunt to kill each other. That’s simply not true. Studies after WWII showed that only 15-20 percent of U.S soldiers would voluntarily fire their weapon at an enemy combatant on their on accord. In reality, people, even ones trained to kill, are really uncomfortable with taking other people’s lives.
War isn’t pretty. Lives are lost, civilians are sometimes caught in the crossfire, and men and women people their lives on the line. But one thing is for certain, as unfortunate as those things are, sometimes conflict is unavoidable.
As long as wars are being fought movie studios, writers, and directors will make films depicting the horrors and triumphs of battle…just make sure you don’t believe everything you see on TV…