This Means War!
Fifty years after the fact, you might ask: what is it? A documentary? A propaganda film? A semi-dramatic film with “real” actors, disguised as a documentary, an unwitting forerunner of the most interesting side of early 21st century cinema? This terrifying, bewildering, eloquent, synthetic film resists easy judgments.
Russell’s film, the story of a clandestine U.S. military detachment going after misappropriated Kuwaiti gold and winding up in a taboo alliance with anti-Saddam rebels, is now half a decade old, and it would certainly seem to beg revisitation and reconsideration in light of contemporary events.
For those familiar only with 1941 for its reputation as a misfire of epic proportions and disastrous critical reception, it might seem ludicrous to assert that the film somehow manages to speak soberly and presciently to certain political realities of life during wartime.