Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The War Game of the Film of the Book..........

By way of a diversion, and this is not really a poll as such; more like a piece of research - What film or films above all have been the ones that have inspired you to war game? Just a film title would be easy so I would also like a reason as well so no pressure! I am also only interested in your top three choices so no long lists please! I suspect that the responses will not contain any great surprises in terms of choice but I would like to hear peoples reasons anyway!

I will start the ball rolling and tell you that for me the two earliest cinematic influences on my wargaming career were Zulu and the Battle of Britain. That is odd because I have not played many Colonial games and all my aerial activity has been via boardgames - mainly Air Force by Battleline/Avalon Hill. I would also have to add Waterloo to the list although I did not see that until it came out on video by which time I had moved on from Napoleonics.

Zulu blew me away at the cinema - the sheer scale and scope of what was on the screen was truly epic and the characters unforgettable. The same applied to the Battle of Britain with the added bonus of breathtaking aerial action. I enjoyed Waterloo because it was the visual interpretation of a truly pivotal battle and showed all the elements of a Greek tragedy. I actually enjoyed the film leading up to the battle and one of my favourite scenes was Rod Steiger as Napoleon dictating to his secretaries - exactly how I imagined the man himself to be.

Colour Sergeant Bourne (aka Nigel Greene), Napoleon (aka Rod Steiger) and Christopher Plummer as the Duke in Waterloo all really captured the flavour of the characters they were portraying and although the purist can, and probably will, drive holes through the historical accuracy of the films, for sheer entertainment and inspirational value they are be hard to beat.

I often stick the DVDs of these films on when I am between chores; even only for short time, for a quick fix of inspiration and they never disappoint.

'Alright said you could stop working............'


Anonymous said...

Hi Ogre,Like yourself Zulu --it came out when I was at Primary school and all the kids re-enacted it (of sorts) in the playground 40 kids or so but it felt like 400 The Alamo -- John Wayne & a cast of true Texan/American heroes backs to the wall and doomed to tactical failure but strategic success and folklore glory. And Finally any Robin Hood film - gave me an excuse to look out the wooden castle my father had made me and battle away with my toys -- didn't have to just be knights -- cowboys/commando/Napoleonic/Romans - the works ....ah nostalgia

Anonymous said...

Hi Ogre, just thought of another selection
The Long Ships -- brilliant Viking stuff, as a kid I was amazed that they had sailed so far and I live in a small seaside town where the Scots defeated the Vikings.
Kings Of The Sun - Yul Brynner in a Mayan saga, unusual subject and wonderful temples.
The Cruel Sea -- OK only Britain could/would do a film like this but somehow through the period propaganda feel it just seemed right ww2 distilled into one film

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

My top three films that inspired me to wargame a particular period or campaign are:

ZULU (I would be surprised if it was not on most wargamer film lists!

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (A great story even if there is not a lot of militay action)

ENEMY AT THE GATES (I think that the opening 10 minutes or so are better than those in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for getting over the sheer terror, noise, and seemingly arbitrary way in which death occurs on the battlefield)

I have only listed the top three as requested; the list could easily be a lot longer.

All the best,


SteelonSand said...

Have to agree on Zulu - Stanley Baker and Cy Enfield's masterpiece - I don't think it has ever been bettered - although for some reason, I've never got around to gaming Rorke's Drift!

"Why us Colour Sergeant?"
- "Because we're here Lad. No one else, just us."

Commissary Dalton at the barricades:

"Careful! Pot that Chap somebody. Good fellow, good fellow!"

Priceless. Timeless. Classic.

Otherwise, that other great last stand, the Alamo, is always good value, whichever film version ( I have a soft spot for Sterling Hayden in the Last Command), although in strictly film to wargame terms, A Bridge Too Far has to come out on top.

Donogh said...

Here are mine
1. The Seven Samurai
This one is also on my best-ever/favourite films list. I love the way it's really unimportant what weapons any of the characters are using (apart from them being a signature/style). It's the quality of the person using it that matters. And of course with the bandits and especially the villagers quantity has a quality all its own. Leadership, morale and some kind of a plan all play a role too.
2. A Bridge Too Far
An archetypical example of battlefield friction. With the best will in the world, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Uncommon valour may win the day, but sometimes it can only delay the inevitable failure
3. Aliens
Maybe it's only a Vietnam War allegory, but it's a damn fine one. The suspense and over-confidence factors may be difficult to include in a wargame, but I'd love to try (and thoughts of Space Hulk still give me a warm fuzzy feeling)

(Of course there are many more especially if I were to include cheesy films which prompt one to start a small skirmish game!)


CWT said...

'The Longest Day' was great WW2 fare, and I remember watching it many times to try and understand what was going on!

'Waterloo' as well for the scale of it all. I believe the director used so many extras that during filming he technically counted as leading the seventh largest army in the world, or something equally mad!

'Star Wars' was probably a big influence on a lot of people as well, for Sci-Fi Wargaming. It certainly came along at just the right stage in my formative years!


David Crook said...


Many thanks for your responses and reasons why - certainly as a topic this could run and run - which has served to reinforce my own rationale for 'doing what I do and why I do it'. I am quite sure that most of us could easily add many more titles to the selections mentioned!

All the best,


Sean Clark said...

1. Yup, Zulu!

"Bromhead: I'll tell my man to clean your kit.
Lieutenant John Chard: Don't bother.
Bromhead: No bother... I'm not offering to clean it myself. "

Colour Sergeant Bourne: It's a miracle.
Lieutenant John Chard: If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber miracle.
Colour Sergeant Bourne: And a bayonet, sir, with some guts behind.

2.A Bridge Too Far
Major Harry Carlyle: We haven't the proper facilities to take you all prisoner! Sorry!

3. Glory
olonel Robert G. Shaw: [points at the flag bearer] If this man should fall, who will lift the flag and carry on?
[Thomas steps forward]
Cpl. Thomas Searles: I will.
Colonel Robert G. Shaw: I'll see you in the fort, Thomas.

These are all films that I never tire of watching and are as much an inspiration now as when I first saw them. A Bridge Too Far was the first war film my dad took me to see and I well remember him leaning over to me as the lights dimmed and whispering "now remember the British dont win..!"

David Crook said...

Hi Sean, It looks like Zulu has really ticked all the boxes and I think that most gamers can quote vast chunks of it! I also enjoyed A Bridge too Far but have not seen Glory. Yet!

All the best,