High Noon, Godfather II, Grand Illusion, and 22 other indispensable movies for understanding war and diplomacy.
Last week, in the online edition of Slate's sister publication Foreign Policy, two of its regular bloggers, Stephen M. Walt and Daniel W. Drezner, drew up lists of what they regard as the best movies ever made about international relations.
Both are eminent international-relations professors, Walt at Harvard, Drezner at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. It's no surprise that neither of them gives our own film critic, Dana Stevens—or, for that matter, Gene Shalit—the slightest cause for worry. It is a shock, though, how lightly they've dipped into their own profession's vast cultural pool.
Walt was inspired to compile the list after a friend told him about a film festival featuring more than 30 movies about wine. "That got me thinking," he writes. "If Foreign Policy had a film festival, what movies should we show?"
A couple of his selections are no-brainers: Dr. Strangelove, the ultimate satire of the nuclear arms race and the Cold War mentality; and Casablanca, the ultimate romance (though far from the best movie) about occupation and resistance. The rest, however, range from lame to puzzling.
His No. 3 pick is The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin's 1940 lampooning of Hitler, which, Walt writes, "reminds us that making fun of despots is often an effective weapon." Maybe Walt doesn't know that Chaplin regretted making this movie after learning of the Holocaust and the true extent of Hitler's monstrousness. The little tramp's pacifist speech at the end of the movie is also a disgrace given the timing of Chamberlain's appeasement. Even so, stipulating Walt's point about fun-poking, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be is the far defter film....
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