THE FUNNIER SIDE OF WAR
Like comedy, does war not also mean senselessness, disorder, disorientation…? Are true war films not then those that deride this absurdity, whose inevitable outcome can only be death? But how can we laugh at such folly? And how far can we go with our mockery? Are there no limits? Attitudes vary from era to era, from country to country, and of course also depend on individual directors and their chosen genre. With the Marx Brothers, we are immersed in the madcap, slapstick lampoonery that we will later find with Monty Python: anything goes, because nothing makes sense. With Rappeneau, we move into pure comedy, where war becomes a cure for world-weariness as in Les Folles années du twist where war is above all a means of self-enrichment and entertainment. In the work of Risi, war and its aftermath are treated with irony and bitterness, whereas Verhoeven chooses the parody and intense satire already seen in a more humorous guise in the works of Altman…
Laughter is often stifled, and a film such as To Be or Not To Be still delights us as it is still destabilising: who in 1942 would have thought that it would be possible to use the concentration camps as a basis for humour? But is the best laughter not that which was thought to be off limits? It is a relief to see how a filmmaker such as Chris Morris was recently able to use humour in his film Four Lions to tell the story of 4 jihadi fools preparing an attack!
We have decided that our main focus would be diversity of approaches, motives and conflicts, and therefore a number of major war comedies do not appear this year. But these will be included in future years of the festival or in films shown at special screening nights, such as Tropic Thunder and Le Cochon de Gaza, which will be appearing this year.
In any case, given the unsurprisingly morbid feeling that war typically induces, let it be the laughter that is explosive on this occasion!
BLITZ WOLF by Tex Avery (1942)
TO BE OR NOT TO BE by Ernst Lubitsch (1942)
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY? by Blake Edwards (1966)
SMALL SOLDIERS by Joe Dante (1998)
DUCK SOUP by Leo Mc Carey (1933)
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD by Kim Jee-Woon (2008)
LA VIE DE CHATEAU by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1966)
STARSHIP TROOPERS by Paul Verhoeven (1997)
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAAL by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam (1975)
WE ARE FOUR LIONS by Chris Morris (2008)
THE CRAZY YEARS OF THE TWIST by Mohamoud Zemmouri (1984)
A DIFFICULT LIFE by Dino Risi (1961)