Inside Pulse 12

Life During War Games 11-11-2011

I have questionable taste in movies. While I have an appreciation for the classics, it is the cult classics that inspire me. I thought this week would be a good time to share the movies that inspire me to paint, convert, and play with miniatures. Some are good, some are great, and at least one is truly strange.


There are several movies people cite in relation to war games: Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, 300. I have never heard anyone cite my favorite movie, the Warriors. For the most part, I understand. The Warriors is not a traditional “war movie”, though it is an adaptation of a classic military story. It is old and dimly lit and kind of skuzzy. Thing is, no movie evokes the fear of crossing enemy territory while outnumbered or the savagery of melee combat as well as the Warriors. There is an impending sense of doom that hangs over the gang as they cross Manhattan, a palpable darkness. There are several scenarios just waiting for adaptation for modern and ancient miniatures games, if you look at it with an open mind. I just wish someone would make the Baseball Furies in 28mm.


The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop-motion animated film directed by Wes Anderson and starring a number of funny animals voiced by hipster icons like Jason Schwartzman and Jarvis Cocker. If there is anything less like a war movie, I would be hard pressed to think of it. Looking a bit closer, however, reveals that there are several workable scenarios. Vastly outnumbered and gunned protagonists using speed and guile to escape a sticky situation is one of my favorite themes, and the Fantastic Mr. Fox puts me in the right mind for this type of scenario. The escape scene towards the end is a perfect example of a prison break scenario, with unarmed escapees and trigger-happy defenders.


Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards is a movie I have brought up in interviews, and for good reason. The version of fantasy that I enjoy hews much closer to Wizards than the Hobbit. I don’t know that I will ever be dissuaded from my theory that Games Workshop’s Orcs and Orks and deeply influenced by the Nazi mutants from Wizards. The plot, once again, centers on a small contingent fighting a much larger horde, but this time there are several scenes of full on warfare. I asked Joshua Qualtieri of Zombiesmith games if his Quar and fantasy lines were inspired by this movie because every time I look at the Quar, I think of Wizards.


When it comes to Tomorrow’s War, the movie that inspires me the most to play is the fantastic Children of Men. Children of Men is a gorgeous near future movie, awash in the grays and blues of the end of the world. The most famous scene in the film is a beautiful tracking shot that follows Clive Owen’s protagonist Theo through the swirling madness of a modern urban battlefield. It is rare for me to want to make scenery, but Children of Men makes the ruins of a modern Western city look compelling and intriguing.

Honestly, I could go on forever. Versus, Oldboy, and Wild Zero are just a few of the movies that give me terrible ideas involving lead and glue. Does anyone out there have even stranger movie inspirations for their war gaming?