Movies About Military Families

First Lady Michelle Obama told a panel discussion Monday that we should pay more attention to military families in our entertainment. Sharing the stage with the wife of an Army officer, a National Guard pilot and a retired soldier, Obama told a crowd of actors, writers, directors and producers unions “that when our country goes to war, we have families that are serving right along with them.”

Looking at some old and new movies that focus on military families, I can see how it’d be difficult to want to portray them. Some aren’t very uplifting because they showcase the realities of that life. Here are 5 movies that reflect military families:

The March girls read a letter from their soldier father.
  • Little Women: During Post-Civil War America, the March sisters make due with their father fighting the war. They struggle, but survive with the support of one another. Review: This is probably the most positive story of a military family I have seen. Sweet and warm, it’s worth watching.

  • Cold Mountain: In the waning days of the Civil War, a wounded soldier embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with his sweetheart. Review: This film was great in portraying the hardship of the soldier and the family left behind.
  • Stop-Loss: A veteran returns from his completed tour in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to duty by the Army. Review: A hard film to watch that shows the conflict some soldiers encounter about returning to battle.
  • The Lucky Ones: The story revolves around three soldiers who return from the Iraq War after suffering injuries and learn that life has moved on without them. Review: The alienation returning soldiers meet is evident. Heart-warming in that we see they will always have their fellow comrades.
  • Brothers: A young man comforts his older brother’s wife and children after he is pronounced dead in Afghanistan, but later returns. Review: Affecting drama. It’s not a feel-good film by any means, but the extent soldiers are pushed while serving our country is made evident.

It can be painful to watch these films, especially if you’re part of a military family. Though it might help to see characters on the screen going through similar situations. The best tribute to our troops I’ve seen was Stephen Colbert’s salute to the troops, “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando” in 2009.  He touted a camo suit, got a military buzz cut and joked with the crowd of soldiers:

“It must be nice in Iraq, because some of you keep coming back again and again,” Colbert said, joking about the multiple tours many troops have had in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Some troops had accumulated enough frequent flyer miles to earn them a free ticket to Afghanistan, he joked.

I agree with Michelle Obama that Hollywood should be more mindful of our military, but the best bet may be laughter through tears.

What do you think?

4 Responses

  1. Centralalley

    There should be more reflections of military life in entertainment, seeing as we’re involved in more than one major world conflict at all times. First, though, maybe we should be able to see the real-life consequences of these conflicts without government interference. How about we lift the ban on showing coffins coming back from wars abroad? Maybe that’s something Michelle Obama might actually have influence over.

  2. We have begun a program called “Operation: Soldier At Ease” that deals with the conflict that families face because of the “addition” of the military as a family member. We are giving them ways to deal with the problems they face through 4 conflict secrets. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Soldiers and their families deal with conflict and end on a positive note. Why can’t there be a documentary style of presentation on some of the positive things that are out there for Soldiers and their families? You could follow a Soldier and his family from the time he comes back from deployment, watch the family as they go through the steps to resolve their conflicts and look at what makes them stronger. The end results would focus on lower divorce rates, less family violence, less workplace violence and lower suicide rates (the most extreme form of conflict management). Let’s celebrate the good we can do to help them.

    1. This sounds wonderful! I’ll do some research, but other than the show, “Army Wives” (which I haven’t seen), I’m not keen to media or a documentary that represents the work and the positive outcomes from that work. Regardless, maybe we could represent it in our newspaper. This sounds like it would be a great feature story that would appeal to every reader.

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