Twisted Roots

Little Otik and Harts War

On the face of it, Hart's War, which is based on a novel by John Katzenbach—whose father, Nicholas, was first a POW in World War II and later a U.S. attorney general under Lyndon Johnson—is no more than a decent thriller trying to overcome a rather preposterous premise. Given the openly rabid racism that prevailed in and out of the U.S. military in the 1940s—and is fully acknowledged in the movie—an on-the-spot lynching may have been a more likely outcome of this scenario than a trial. Yet even as the film finally unravels in an orgy of improbable self-sacrifice all round, one is won over by its abdication of America-first arrogance, its generous appreciation for human fallibility, and a spirit of self-criticism that's all too rare now that we're so busy demonizing the Other.

Little Otik was written and directed by Jan Svankmajer; produced by Jaromir Kallista. Now playing at the Nuart, West Los Angeles; Hart's War was directed by Gregory Hoblit; written by Billy Ray and Terry George, based on a novel by John Katzenbach; produced by David Ladd, David Foster, Arnold Rifkin and Hoblit; and stars Bruce Willis. Now playing countywide.

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