War films demand temporal distance. The gulf accommodates hindsight since, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.” It also allows the spectator to digest it in palatable, abstract terms, since the true horrors of war cannot be fathomed by the uninitiated mind.
In modern times, the minimum gap is three to four years. It took three to four years from the fall of Saigon for movies like Deer Hunter, Coming Home, and Apocalypse Now to examine the costly toll of the Vietnam War. More recently, it’s been three to four years since our withdrawal from Iraq for fil...
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