The Fatal Alliance

A Century of War on Film

by David Thomson

On Sale: 11/14/2023

The Fatal Alliance

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The Fatal Alliance

A Century of War on Film

by David Thomson

On Sale: 11/14/2023


About the Book

From one of the greatest living writers on film, a magisterial look at a century of battle depicted on screen, and a meditation on the twisted relationship between war and the movies.

“Thomson’s own genius is his ability to remain one of the leading authorities on cinematic history, without shying away from the controversial. Cinephiles seeking provocative arguments will appreciate his work.”—Library Journal

In The Fatal Alliance the acclaimed film critic David Thomson offers us one of his most provocative books yet—a rich, arresting, and troubling study of that most beloved genre: the war movie. It is not a standard history or survey of war films, although Thomson turns his typically piercing eye to many favorites—from All Quiet on the Western Front to The Bridge on the River Kwai to Saving Private Ryan. But The Fatal Alliance does much more, exploring how war and cinema in the twentieth century became inextricably linked. Movies had only begun to exist by the beginning of World War I, yet in less than a century, had transformed civilian experience of war—and history itself—for millions around the globe. This reality is the moral conundrum at the heart of Thomson’s book. War movies bring both prestige and are so often box office blockbusters; but is there something problematic at how much moviegoers enjoy depictions of violence on a grand scale, such as Apocalypse Now, Black Hawk Down, or even Star Wars? And what does this truth say about us, our culture, and our changing sense of warfare and the past? 

Critical Praise

"A marvelous bombshell of a book, by one of our most formidably knowledgeable and insightful writers on film, it is filled with surprises and witty asides. Though Thomson is quick to pounce on the hypocrisies and historical omissions of some of these war movies, there is nothing compromised about his own daredevil judgments. We are in the hands of a master critic/essayist." — Phillip Lopate

“Praise the gods for giving us a writer with a deep moral sense and an epigrammatic prose style who writes as exquisitely about war as he does about film. Thomson's book brims with striking observations and provocative readings of crucial films, the great and the forgotten, from All Quiet on the Western Front to Apocalypse Now to Black Hawk Down and scores more. The Fatal Alliance is an absorbing, uproarious and essential book -- about war, about film, about us. And my God, the man can write!"  — Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War and Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063041417
  • ISBN 10: 0063041413
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 11/14/2023
  • Pages: 448
  • List Price:43.50 CAD
  • BISAC1 : PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism
  • BISAC2 : PERFORMING ARTS: Film / Genres / General
  • BISAC3 : HISTORY / Military / General

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