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February 2016 TAP Movie of the Month – Europe’s Battlefield

battlebulgemovieposterFebruary is all about the war in Europe – specifically Belgium, which has been referred to as the Battlefield of Europe.  Throughout history, Germany and France haven’t gotten along very well, and poor Belgium is stuck there between them – becoming the site of many of the greatest battles of WWI and WWII.   There have been numerous movies made about these battles, so we’d like you to check out at least one.

You can choose any of the many WWI or WWII films set in Belgium.  Some are better than others, and I suppose that depends on your personal tastes, so choose one that you think you’ll enjoy.

No matter what you choose, you’re sure to learn a ton about history and wind up with a better sense of what we’re seeing when we drive through Belgium this summer.

  • A Midnight Clear was a 1992 film that took place in the early stages of the Battle of the Bulge, late in the war.  Starring Ethan Hawke and Gary Sinise, the movie portrays an American intelligence unit who have suffered great casualties and have only six members left of their squad.  The group is trapped in a chateau in Belgium, surrounded by a group of more experienced German soldiers right around Christmastime.  The Germans, instead of firing on the six remaining Americans, instead begin to communicate in unusual ways.  A great movie that shows the human side of war.
  • The 1965 movie Battle of the Bulge, starring Henry Fonda, is not the most historically accurate, but it is a well made movie that gives you some insight into what the battle was like and was a huge success upon its release.  Battle of the Bulge documentaries might be a good alternative (or supplement) to make sure you understand what the real battle was like – because, we will be going through the site of the Battle of the Bulge on our trip.
  • Battleground, a hit movie way back in 1949, was one of the first WWII films made after the end of the war in 1945.  It has been praised by critics for showing the American soldiers as vulnerable and human, not just war machines.  The movie tells the story of the Siege of Bastogne – part of the Battle of the Bulge.  The movie is considered to be a very accurate (but not perfect) portrayal of the real battle.
  • A few other options would be Attack (1956), Gaston’s War (1997), Against the Wind (1948), Saints and Soldiers (2003), Silent Night (2002), or A Bridge Too Far (1977). All of these movies are about Belgian people during WWII.
  • If you’d prefer, watch some documentaries and/or YouTube videos about the Battle of the Bulge, the Belgian Resistance, or even WWI in Belgium.

To participate in the February Movie of the Month conversation, use the comments section below to add your thoughts to the discussion.  Make sure you do the following things:

  1. Start off by telling the group which movie you watched.
  2. Tell us what you thought of the movie, and why.
  3. Most importantly, tell us what you learned that you think will help you be better prepared for our trip to France.

Then, come back often to share ideas, ask questions, or gain insight from your fellow travelers.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2016 7:05 pm

    I watched the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s Last Offensive documentary. I thought it was very good. It was about the attack with the Commander Omar Bradley from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945. It was a major German offensive campaign started through the Ardennes region Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe. It explained how they planned the attacks and how they defended the base. The americans won the battle and starting to push towards Berlin. The phrase “Battle of the Bulge” was used to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the most widely used name for the battle. What I really want to see is where the actual battle location is. It will feel so good to be standing in the middle of the place that started Hitler’s loss.

  2. Jasmin Zielinski permalink
    February 14, 2016 5:58 pm

    Band of Brothers Part 1- Currahee, Day of Days, and Carentan
    I watched a miniseries called Band of Brothers, and it follows an American paratrooper company through WWII. I really liked this series. It was put together really well and looked realistic. I especially liked how WWII veterans spoke at the beginning of each episode. This series was so long, however, that I’m breaking it up into 3 different parts. Part 1 is about the company going through training, dropping on D-Day and struggling to find each other and the other units after D-Day. This taught me how people will make sacrifices to save what they love. Many men put themselves in danger trying to save their friends. For example, one man took a bullet while dragging his injured friend to a medic. This will help me on the trip because now I know that lots of people we meet will have the same spirit and drive that the soldiers from WWII did.

  3. Jasmin Zielinski permalink
    February 14, 2016 5:59 pm

    Band of Brothers Part 2- Replacements, Crossroads, Bastogne, and The Breaking Point
    Part 2 of Band of Brothers is about the company adjusting to their lives in Europe and overcoming their fears in or of battle. This taught me that no matter how hard your life gets, you just have to tough through it. Captain Winters (the main captain that the story follows) has to remind his soldiers to stay strong many times during the series. He had to be courageous even though he was scared, and that made him a great leader. Captain Winters commanded respect for his actions. This will help me on the trip because many people such as the tour directors and other adults will be commanding the same respect from us, even though they’re not leading us into war.

  4. Jasmin Zielinski permalink
    February 14, 2016 5:59 pm

    Band of Brothers Part 3- The Last Patrol, Why We Fight, and Points
    Part 3 of Band of Brothers series is about the end of the war. The Easy Company was stationed in Europe, so after they were done fighting, they couldn’t go home because there was still the war with Japan happening elsewhere on the globe. This taught me not to get your hopes up too much because something else might happen. The soldiers in the Easy Company were completely distraught when they heard they couldn’t go home right away as they were expecting. This will help me on the trip because I know now that I won’t get to do every single thing I want to do when we’re in Europe, so I should just go back instead of being disappointed when we leave.

  5. February 21, 2016 12:03 pm

    I watched A Midnight Clear (1992). I enjoyed the movie. It was about a group of soldiers who were stuck in a chateau surrounded by a group of skilled Germans, who communicated with them in unusual ways. One of the reasons I enjoyed the movie was how it showed more to the war than just fighting. Films like Saving Private Ryan are very good because of the realism of the battles, but A Midnight Clear had more of a story to it. It showed how the war affected soldiers. This was shown through the commentary of the narrator, as well as the decline in Mother’s mental health. The movie was interesting because it showed the views soldiers had on the war, specifically towards the end when the movie takes place. Won’t’s commentary also shone light into how he viewed his superiors and once again how he viewed the war against the Germans. The film had very realistic portrayals of the brotherhoods formed in the war, and had realism in the fighting and military strategy. Overall I found the film to be very enjoyable. I found the movie educated me more in the area of Belgium, and all the fighting during the World Wars that went on there. Most importantly the film showed me more about World War 2, which will definitely help on the trip because events of that war had such a great impact upon the countries we will be visiting.

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