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In the discussion and analysis in this paper, three kinds of films are analyzed based on their social function-specifically, how each film represent a criticism of war and conflict at different periods in history. These films are “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Life is Beautiful,” and “The Aviator,” which are categorized as documentary, fiction, and non-fiction films, respectively. These films are analyzed and interpreted based on their ability to provide a critical look at the conflicts that occurred and which became the basis-primary or otherwise-for the development of the narrative in each.
The analysis posits that the three films criticize war and conflict in various ways. “Fahrenheit 9/11” criticizes the political instability caused by the offensive attack that US waged against Iraq, causing greater discord between the Middle Eastern nations and US and its allies. “Life is Beautiful” reflected the absurdity of World War II, as millions of lives, particularly Jews, were unnecessarily lost as a result of the genocide imposed on them by Adolf Hitler of Germany. Lastly, “The Aviator” provides an in-depth look at the lives of the people in the context of Howard Hughes’ life and using the World War II as the socio-political background. In it, the film reflected the politico-economic machineries that motivated and supported World War II, uncovering also the politics that occurs ‘behind the scenes,’ the politicking of businessmen and aircraft manufacturers in order to benefit best and profit the most from the war.
Apart from these comparisons among the three films in terms of their depiction and critical interpretation of war and conflict, this paper also looks into the differences in the execution of the directors in depicting these interpretations into film. For “Fahrenheit,” Moore’s critical look at the 9/11 bombing and US invasion of Iraq is more explicit and direct, in the sense that real film clips were used to critically interpret the Bush administration’s actions before, during, and after the tragic event.
“Life” provides a different execution as well, weaving its criticism into the story of Guido’s family as Jews persecuted for their race and religion. However, unlike Moore’s “Fahrenheit,” Benigni’s film depicts a fictional scenario put into a real event in human history. “Aviator,” meanwhile, illustrates the life of Howard Hughes, depicting his life and achievements and chronicling the events relevant and significant to his development as an important personality in both the entertainment and automotive businesses, as well as politics.
In understanding the contrasts among “Fahrenheit,” “Life,” and “Aviator,” it is vital to understand first their crucial differences. “Fahrenheit” is a realist documentary, because it provides real images and accounts of events surrounding the 9/11 bombing, events that Moore had organized in a manner that provides support to his criticisms and arguments against President Bush and the administration. As explicated by Bordwell and Thompson (1997), a documentary does convey truth in that it illustrates “events as they actually occur,” but it can also be depicted realistically when the director ‘controls the editing of the images’ to be included in the film.