Music in American Combat Films

A Critical Study

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About the Book

The book explores ways in which combat film scores interact collaboratively with other film elements (for instance, image and dialogue) to guide audience understanding of theme and character. Examined are classical and current models of film scoring practice and the ways they work to represent changes in film narratives taking place over time or from film to film. Differing approaches to scoring practice are considered as possible reflections of prevailing cultural attitudes toward war and warriors during the time of a film’s creation, the war it represents, or both. Observations of cinematic representations of masculinity, heroism and war raise questions regarding whether (and if so, to what extent) we have lost some measure of faith in our country’s motives for waging war and in the traditional models of what we think it means to be a hero.

About the Author(s)

Wesley J. O’Brien is Chairperson of the Media Studies Department and Associate Professor of Media Studies at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Wesley J. O’Brien
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6343-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9296-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface   1

Introduction: Film Scoring Practice and the American Combat Film   3

I. Scoring the Classical Combat Film and Conventions of the War Film Protagonist: The Story of G.I. Joe   19

II. The Vietnam Conflict Scored as a Conventional War Film: John Wayne Plays John Wayne in The Green Berets   42

III. The Ambivalent Hero: Major Heroic Malfunction in Full Metal Jacket   72

IV. Vietnam Redux: Scoring the Conflicted (Post–9/11) Hero in We Were Soldiers   97

V. Heroes Without a Cause: Scoring Practice and the Devolution of Combat Film Heroism in the Wake of Vietnam   116

VI. Re-Presenting “The Good War”   134

VII. Comparing Classical and Current Scoring Practices   158

Notes   177

Works Cited   180

Index   186