Saturday, August 8, 2015
Lester’s first foray into social satire channels his early irreverence into a pointed critique of the British military mindset and class snobbery (The Knack… meets The Bridge on the River Kwai, if you will). Set during World War II (though with pointed Vietnam parallels), How I Won the War depicts the delegation of a platoon to clear an officer’s heavily mined cricket field in North Africa—a suicide mission that exemplifies the casual disregard for human life in wartime. Michael Crawford is the unreliable narrator and beneficiary of a soldier’s lone consolation—the right to spin fanciful tales of combat heroism (“How I won the war…”). Since its release, the film has garnered a sizable cult following, due in large part to John Lennon’s turn as Cockney gunner Gripweed—a portrayal that, like his best songs, blends hilarity and cynicism.