“War is Hell.” The often quoted phrase by General William Tecumseh Sherman is an appropriate objection to romanticized ideals of war. General Sherman understood that in order to be victorious, he must make war as horrible as possible for the enemy so that he may not wish to continue fighting. All too often the popular media produces works of fiction such as movies, books, and television shows that idealize war (Gabriel, 46). The Red Baron is a World War I film drama that tries to tackle this issue. The Red baron realistically portrays the misguided notions that war is somehow noble, but as the story progresses the reality and horror of war reveals itself
The works of Richard Gabriel and George Mosse contribute to the argument. Gabriel argues from a psychological standpoint. He proposes that throughout history, war has always been so horrible. In fact the ability of man to endure the psychological impact of this horror is so low that most soldiers that survive are in some way mentally damaged by the experience. Mosse argues that the idealization or romanticization of war can be traced back to how war is portrayed by writers and how it influences idealist. These idealists later become the leaders of the military and agitate for war. Both authors talk about how the media inaccurately portrays a romantic image of war.
Gabriel’s main argument is that war has always been horrible. It is so horrible that people are deathly afraid of it. He states, “fear and madness have been mans companions in war since the beginning of recorded history.” Humans have such a low mental capacity for dealing with the horrors of war that in ancient times, wars were often times decided in a single battle. He states, “accounts of past battles seem so often to offer examples of individual heroism and courage and all too seldom reports acts of cowardice and fear”. Gabriel cites an example from the Ancient world, more specifically Sparta. The Spartans, thanks in large part to the recent film, and renowned for their military prowess and courage in the face of battle. They apparently faced one million Persians with a force of just 300 warriors. In the film 300, we see an extended exposition of how Spartans are raised from childhood to be warriors skilled in the art of soldiery. They learn hand to hand combat, forging off the land, and finally how to fight with sword and shield. They are in a sense the perfect soldier. However, the reality is that there was more dissention in the ranks than portrayed in the movie. “That men broke and ran was a fact of military life and it still is”. There are accounts of soldiers wounding themselves and complaining of injuries or illnesses that just happen to come up right before the battle.
Gabriel continues his argument with an analysis of the phrase, “That is a million dollar wound.” This is a famous phrase that originated during World War I which basically meant that you received a wound that is not life threatening but is serious enough...