This movie is about the role of the Conscientious Objector in World War II. The average person normally thinks of a CO as one who simply refuses to serve in the military, but there are many issues that are connected with making the decision to become an official CO. Most are classified as such because their religious beliefs prevent them from being able to pick up a weapon and kill another human being, even when in war. Some religions who support this belief against any type of killing are Quakers, Mennonites, Amish and related churches. The film makers are trying to tell the story of the Conscientious Objector specifically during World War II because of how difficult the choice to stick to their belief was for this conflict.
One might wonder what makes World War II more difficult to be a CO than Vietnam, the Persian Gulf Conflict or other wars, but considering the circumstances behind WWII it actually is understandable. Even though America never officially declared war against Germany, stories of Hitler and his Nazi regime horrified Americans. Many people who felt that Cos were only trying to get out of their patriotic duty, and the answer from a CO in that sense would be to ask that person challenging their beliefs if they could guarantee them a shot to kill Hitler; otherwise, why should they shoot another draftee who has done nothing to them personally? It is an interesting argument that brings up a number of questions about the morality of war and how governments draft men and women into service.
There is one difference that is highlighted in the film between a true Conscientious Objector and someone who is simply claiming to be one to get out of military service. The difference is that a traditional CO would try to find alternate means of service such as volunteering to become a field medic which in many cases is more dangerous than the actual service on the battlefield. Many Cos during World War II worked to set up relief services to help heal the damages of war in areas that were heavily affected by the war. This was specifically helpful in the aftermath of dropping Atomic bombs in Japan, which did lead to their surrender but at what cost to humanity? Who would recognize their efforts of relief when the soldiers who are killing and destroying humanity were being hailed as conquering heroes?
The film makers did an excellent job with the film itself. Integrating actual footage of propaganda film and footage from battle with the interviews of the Cos made the entire story real because the audience could see all points of view in the matter and decide for themselves if they agreed or disagreed with the plight of the Conscientious Objector. It was also good to use pieces of classical music, the most recognizable piece being Mozart’s Requiem for the Dead, mixed in with the audio. All of the technical elements the film used made it come alive and truly bring the experience of these courageous people to the audience.
Would this be a good movie about war to recommend to other students? This writer would have to answer that question with an emphatic yes. Not only is it a good movie to being humanitarian issues about war to light, but it also brings in a history lesson about World War II that is not typically found in a class curriculum. In order for people to learn from history, it is important to bring lessons such as the one presented in this film to light. The Conscientious Objector is courageous because they stand up for their principles and find alternate means to contribute during times of conflict.