Iraq War Movies Coming Soon

It looks like movies about the Iraq War will be coming out before the shooting stops.

Moviemakers aren’t waiting for the Iraq war to finish before they put their Hollywood ending on it. Francis Ford Coppola made “Apocalypse Now” six years after the Vietnam War ended in 1973, and it wasn’t until the ’80s that Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” and Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” hit cinemas. But with instant 24-hour news coverage bringing the three-year-long war’s reality home every day, film artists want to imitate life that much faster.

Tom Cruise has optioned and may star in “The Fall of the Warrior King,” based on a New York Times story about a disgraced Army commander in Iraq. Ron Howard is scheduled to direct “Last Man Home,” about the search for a missing American G.I. there. Ridley Scott will produce “The Invisible World,” about a kidnapped female journalist, and “Boys Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce will helm “Stop-Loss,” which centers on a soldier who doesn’t want to go back to Baghdad. Just last week, Deborah Scranton’s documentary “The War Tapes,” made by New Hampshire National Guardsmen with hand-held cameras, won the top prize in its category at the Tribeca Film Festival.

But racing reality is not without its fears for “Crash” screenwriter Paul Haggis. “I’m scared out of my wits,” Haggis told us. “Which I think is a good thing for a filmmaker, or any artist.” Just last week, Haggis completed the script for “Death and Dishonor,” about a father searching for his son who went missing on the way home from Iraq. He’s also directing a screen version of former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke’s book “Against All Enemies.”

Director Irwin Winkler, who has wrapped principal photography on “Home of the Brave,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, 50 Cent, Jessica Biel and Chad Michael Murray, says he’s undaunted about making an Iraq project so soon. “Just because [directors in the past] waited longer doesn’t mean that I have to wait any longer,” Winkler told us. “I think it’s on everbody’s mind.

“As far as Vietnam goes, we had to take a deep breath and get some perspective on the issue. The news is so hot, and it’s on all the time, and I think we understand it more quickly. Generally, I think most of the country thinks the same way about this war.”

Not hardly.

Still, while there is a need for sensitivity when portraying an ongoing war, it’s hardly unprecedented. Indeed, John Wayne alone made several WWII movies during that war: “Flying Tigers” (1942), “The Fighting Seabees” (1944), “Back to Bataan” (1945), and “They Were Expendable” (1945). He also made “The Green Berets,” a Vietnam War flick that came out in 1968. Of course, all of those pictures showed American forces as heroes.

Gone Hollywood

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Popular Culture, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ob1 says:

    And they will wonder why the movies fail at the box office. F’ing idiots!

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Another picture to consider is “Wake Island” (1942). This picture came out within months of the events that it portrayed. And it came out when it was far from clear as to what the outcome in the Pacific might be.

  3. Mark says:

    So making a movie about the Iraq war is OK, but United 93 was too soon!


  4. legion says:

    Just out of curiosity, were there any WWII movies that _didn’t_ show our troops as heroes? I’m talking about films made in/about the WWII timeframe – Catch-22 doesn’t count 🙂

  5. Jim says:

    I am sure “Stop Loss” will be a nuanced look at the stop-loss program and why the Army felt it had to resort to it following 911 (when the stop-loss orders began)….nah 🙁

  6. Bithead says:

    The difference here, that nobody is daring to mention… (so I will)… America could depend on its movies… Wonder of wonders … to be pro- American.

    Given Hollywood these days, that is hardly a lock, any longer. And of course, leave it to all around weirdo Tom Cruise, to give us a living demonstration of the point.

  7. LJD says:

    Get ready for more crap out of Hollywood. Cliche story lines, bad acting, inflammatory political undertones, and my least favorite: total misrepresentations of the military and our troops. Hollywood simply cannot accept the fact that our troops are extremely well trained, equipped, and disciplined.

    After struggling through the crap that was Jarhead, I don’t know how much more I can bear.

    I recommend following up on THe War Tapes instead. Real footage from real troops.

  8. Keith Demko says:

    I think most of these movies will be really, really bad .. for one that isn’t, try the documentary “Gunner Palace” .. it simply follows a batallion on patrol in Iraq, and it is very informative and entertaining

  9. Dick says:

    I’ve probably seen ALL the WWII war movies, none of which were great examples of the cinema trade, but great for the time and place. I’m a combat vet (infantry) of Korea and Nam, and must say that the movies on Nam were plain and simple Hollywood garbage, as far removed from reality as possible. If Jerkywood, in it’s present state of left-wing, super-politicized, ignore-the truth at all costs mania starts making movies about Iraq…it will be very sad. But not as sad as the Armies of totally uninformed 30+ skate-boarders and game players who will actually believe what they see.
    Just for the record, I am rapidly losing confidence in President Bush, but he is doing exactly the right thing in Iraexcept that we need a draft and about 200K more people there.