Friday, September 09, 2016

Battle Hymn, Douglas Sirk, 1957

Better than expected, but Sirk can't quite transcend the obscenities inherent in the material this time - especially the way the story reformulates the ethics of war as an economy of orphans: kill 37 in the first war, save a few hundred in the next one. Also the way it contrasts Rock Hudson's functionalist, unsensual American note-quite-family with his bizarrly kitchy, hyper-fertile Korean uber-family. (Still, he doesn't succumb to Anna Kashfi, who's all desire even in her death scene. Maybe the film's really about two different ways of not having sex, one very protestant, the other quasi-catholic.)

That being said, BATTLE HYMN looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous. Both Russell Metty and Frank Skinner are on top of their game, the second-unit work in the flight scenes is marvellous and Hudson sure knows how to wear a uniform.

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