An Exhibition On War Movies Filled With Emotion And Nostalgia

Real to Reel, Imperial War Museum ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 20 months ago

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An Exhibition On War Movies Filled With Emotion And Nostalgia Real to Reel, Imperial War Museum 4
The Great Escape motorbike and a Casablanca poster are just a taster of what to expect in this show

War movies can be dramatic, horrifying, emotionally powerful... and sometimes hilarious. This exhibition examines some of the greats including Casablanca, Full Metal Jacket and The Great Dictator.

We're guided in with the cheeky theme from The Great Escape and the soaring soundtrack from Lawrence of Arabia, but start with one of the earliest war films — featuring actual footage from the Somme. At the time, this drew locals in their droves to the cinema. The perception of war was transformed, as people at home were able to see the horrors of war for the first time.

Ever since, the depiction of war in film has become a mainstay genre of cinema. There are clips littered throughout this show including a big screen showing that unforgettable Normandy beach landing scene from Saving Private Ryan. We see the horrendous drill sergeant from Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket putting the trainees through their paces, right through to clips of more recent movies such as Atonement and Eye in the Sky.

Some props such as annotated scripts and costumes are only likely to appeal to the die-hard fans. But the mundane stuff is countered by the motorbike from The Great Escape, and scale models of bombers and submarines used for filming. It's great to see the prop next to a video of it in the final cut — the magic of cinema means a plastic prop becomes so much more vivid on screen.

There's merchandise on display too including toys, posters, board games and even a Casablanca cookbook — we weren't surprised to find that it features a hefty cocktails section.

The success of an exhibition on war films is always going to hinge on triggering visitor's memories and emotions, using film clips and soundtracks. And on this front the Imperial War Museum definitely delivers.

Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies is on at Imperial War Museum until 8 January 2017. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available. Also on at Imperial War Museum is a display on the threats of ISIS and Ebola.

This is just one of the nine exhibitions we're looking forward to this month.

Last Updated 05 November 2016