Life and racism in World War II

By Corinna Callsen

The TV spots and posters for Hart’s War make you expect a Die Hard set in World War II, with Bruce Willis in the leading role, a lot of explosions, shootings, dead bad guys and the brave survival of the hero. And yes, the hero survives-but it’s not Willis, and Willis is not Lieutenant Tom Hart.

Hart’s War begins by introducing second year Yale student Tom Hart (Colin Farrel) as the central character of the story. Protected by his father’s political influence, he is a desk-bound officer with insight into troop movements and other major decisions made by the Americans in the last months of the war. On a rather curtsy drive through the French countryside, Hart gets caught in a trap and, after a period of brutal questioning, ends up in German imprisonment at Stalag VI in Augsburg, Germany.

Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis) is the highest-ranking officer and leader of the American war prisoners at the camp. He turns out to be a dubious person, not revealing his actual intentions until the very end. Willis seems to have moved away from the fighting-shooting-killing movies with transparent plots and sticks to a thoughtful drama with both depth and unexpected twists.

As the story and the characters develop, it becomes obvious that Hart’s War emphasizes different aspects of imprisonment than other movies on the same topic. Here, we are confronted with racial issues between black and white Americans, a trade-relation between prisoners and guards and the value of life-does the escape of 35 men justify the sacrifice of one?

Farrel plays an excellent Tom Hart, perfectly cast as a young, handsome and ignorant Lieutenant who has never seen trenches, let alone a war prison.

Filmed in Prague and directed by Gregory Hoblit, this movie, with its solid performances by Farrel and Willis, is definitely above average. The surprising twists are more than just the run of the mill of the WWII topics and certainly make the movie worth watching.


Leave a comment