Published on February 10th, 2009 | by Chris0
How I Won The War (1967)
1967's How I Won The War is a bizarre movie. I really can't think of any other way to describe it. I'm trying to come up with some sort of comparison, and really, I can't think of anything that comes close. Maybe a cross between Monty Python, Lawrence of Arabia, and a drug-induced 60's art movie.
The plot? To be quite honest, I couldn't quite discern one. Not that it matters anyway. What you've got is the mis-adventures of one Ernest Goodbody (Michael Crawford) as he ineptly leads his men into the North African desert. I think. I say "I think" because they continually flash around to the same group of men in Europe during the war, and some rather strange and unsettling dialogue between Goodbody and his German captor (which happened during this European "campaign") as the Nazis prepare to blow up a bridge in advance of the Allied push....
But like I said, none of that matters. What you end up with is a non-stop series of nonsensical skits and visual images which, I suppose, are meant to present some kind of anti-war sentiment.
There's Gripweed (John Lennon, yes, that John Lennon) who seems to be in a dope induced state the entire way. There's the guy who keeps showing up dressed in all manner of bizarre (there's that word again) getups, from blackface to officer-parody. There's the coward who's spending the entire journey in his skivvies... When the men get killed, they turn into these pastel-painted ghosts, which continue on with the squad... Aw heck, why bother, really, like I said none of it matters.
Yet for its total lack of direction and story I found myself really enjoying it. If you're not the type to "get" "British Humor(tm)" then you may as well forget it. The endless slapstick, the oddball voicings, the one-liners.... I found myself just wondering what else they'd come up with.
And at the end, it sort of becomes clear, as an aged Goodbody stands almost alone with the sole remaining squadmate at a reunion. All of this has been his "retelling" in a senile and celebratory way of "how he won the war." Which of course he actually didn't, and he knows it, but he has to tell himself that to make sense of the absurdity that he remembers.
At least I think I get it. I'm giving it seven stars nonetheless. Maybe if I were back in '67 after dropping a tab or two I might get How I Won The War even more. Maybe that's the point?
Summary: At least I think I get it. I'm giving it seven stars nonetheless. Maybe if I were back in '67 after dropping a tab or two I might get How I Won The War even more. Maybe that's the point?