War Is Rated R

Pardon my language, but when I read this…

The horrors and realities of war can be shown perfectly well in a patriotic, inspiring movie for broad audiences, and vice versa, without all of today’s post-modern, R-rated angst.*

…my first thought was:

OK… Where to start?

On the one hand: I agree. Not all war movies need to be rated R.

Image result for grave of the fireflies poster

On the other hand:

I believe that an R-rated war movie can, depending on how its R rating is achieved, do a better job of making its audience think, and empathize with the characters, than a PG-13 or below war movie.



Imagine the beginning of Saving Private Ryan (1998) with no blood, gore, burns, or swearing — no content that would earn the movie an R rating.

The impact of the Omaha Beach scene would be lessened.

Which would, I believe, be disrespectful to everyone who actually fought and died on Omaha Beach.



A portrayal of soldiers’ hellish experience would be watered-down in order to be appropriate for all ages.

Image result for kids in a movie theater

And, at worst, as a result of that, people might think “You know, judging by this portrayal of war, war doesn’t look too awful.”

My point is:

Some subjects, to treat them with the respect they deserve, require an R-rating.

Steven Spielberg was trying to treat the war in Europe with the respect it deserved by, for example, not watering down the violence — by implicitly saying, as best as he could, “This is what soldiers went through.”

…World War II veterans…stated that the film was the most realistic depiction of combat they had ever seen. The film was so realistic that combat veterans of D-Day and Vietnam left theaters rather than finish watching the opening scene depicting the Normandy invasion. Their visits to post-traumatic stress disorder counselors rose in number after the film’s release, and many counselors advised “‘more psychologically vulnerable'” veterans to avoid watching it.**


What Movieguide has to say about Hacksaw Ridge (2016), a movie partially about the battle for Okinawa:

Thankfully, all ‘f’ words used in production were edited out, but several lighter obscenities are in the movie.

So, according to Movieguide, even if characters saying the f-word during moments of intense stress and combat is being true to life, get rid of the word anyway?

Image result for hacksaw ridge

*An excerpt from Movieguide’s review of “Flags of Our Fathers”

**Critical response to “Saving Private Ryan”


2 thoughts on “War Is Rated R

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