War & Conflict

'Modern Warfare 3' Video Game Hits The Shelves

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, November 9, 2011
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Nov. 10, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Nov. 8 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — They came, they bought and now they're off to save the world — after school that is.

"I have class until three, when I get back I'll finish my work and then probably play it all night," said student Mike Donahoe.

"Modern Warfare 3," the third video game in the wildly popular "Call of Duty" series, went on sale at midnight Monday night – but sales are already expected to top last year's video game installment, "Black Ops," which made over $650 million dollars in sales in its first week. "Modern Warfare" producer Mark Rubin said the success of these games comes from listening to customers.

"What we've done with 'Modern Warfare 3' is come into our own and understand our audience and find out what they want to get out of 'Call of Duty.'" Rubin said.

The new game has players act as "Special Operation" forces, defending U.S. and European targets against a Russian invasion. The series, known for its extreme violence and realism, even includes a controversial scene where a girl is killed in a truck bombing. Rubin says it's about being as realistic as possible.

"We're trying to tell a story that shows the impact of war and the impact it has on civilians and non-combatants. Our games show that it's challenging for the soldiers but also for everyone else in the world."

"I had this on reserve two months ago, in the summer for my son. I called him in Israel, he ordered it in Israel and then he came here," video gamer Nir Plag said.

Student Robert Mast also just bought "Modern Warfare 3." "I'm going to be playing this all day. I have an English essay, but I'll probably just do that later. I just can't wait," Mast said.

According to Activism, the games' publisher, six million people play the game every day making it one of the world's best selling game series, as customers like Nir Plag and Robert Mast can attest.

May 14: Sinead O'Connor

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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Shoshana Johnson: Former POW

Thursday, February 24, 2011
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Veterans Day, 2010

By Laura Carlo   |   Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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Back in early August my hubs and son joined me on a walking tour of parts of my beloved Boston, my native city. Along the walk it occurred to me that my child had seen the Old North Church from the outside but had never been in so I included that on our walk. I was struck by a small and simple display just outside the Church dedicated to the memory of those American servicemen and women who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dog tags, no engraving, strung up next to each other on thing ropes, tinkling in the breeze. So simple, so profound.
My little boy was by my side and we held hands as I tried to explain what this all meant, as if anyone could, and my heart broke in two for all the moms (and dads) whose little boys weren’t by their sides, but instead were represented by those thousands of dog tags.
Here are a couple of photos I took of that display, and a little poem I wrote just so I could get to sleep that night. I wrote it in the voice of all the mothers who lost a child in these on-going wars.

Old North Church Memorial
August 8, 2010

I see you, My Son, and My Son and My Son and My Son…
Mama’s here. I see you, shining boy, in the sunlight. I see you and all your buddies. Strangers to each other and yet, now, kindred souls.
I hear you, My Son, and My Son and My Son and My Son…
Each breeze strengthens your voices. You are singing in unison now.
I’m afraid to go to sleep because you will haunt me. I ache to touch your skin and kiss your cheek one more time and forever and forever.
But I don’t want to do that in my sleep. Please do not haunt me any more because I cannot let you go.
You grew inside me, My Son and My Son and My Son and My Son. And now your absence grows inside me.

By the way, if you see a veteran selling those paper poppies outside grocery stores today make a donation then shake a hand and say “thank you.”

For Veterans Day, Favorite Films From The Frontlines

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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A scene from Saving Private Ryan. Photo by Amblin Entertainment – © 1998

BEDFORD -- Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Mass. has a lot of what you might expect: Fighter jets, uniformed men and women bustling about and the requisite on-base hangout. At the back of Hansom’s MinuteMan Club sits 2nd. Lt. Patrick Gernert, who sits at a card table with two other servicemen, talking about their favorite war movies.
“Mine would probably be Forrest Gump,” says Gernert. “Even when he was miles from home he always thought about Jenny, and he always wanted to get back to her. He got bit in the butt, but he did definitely get home.”
Just like every football player has seen Rudy, and every filmmaker has studied Citizen Kane, for America’s men and women in uniform there are a go-to set of must-see movies that are often quoted, joked about and heavily relied on.

Must-See War Movies

Saving Private Ryan

Its first and last acts are among the most realistic and brutal depictions of war captured on film. In between is a timeless story of innocence facing the ultimate test.

Top Gun

One of a handful of movies granted full cooperation by U.S. Miltary, Top Gun defined heroics in the air for a generation with iconic star turns by Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.

Forrest Gump

On one hand the story of a simple fan living an extraordinary life. Dig deeper and follow the baby boom generation as it grows up through Elvis, Vietnam, and the age of disco, drugs, and disease.


Classic Bill Murrary comedy. "Don't leave. The flowers will die."

Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick's mix of surrealism and dark humor follows a Vietnam platoon's evolution from boyhood to war machine.


When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by a corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

“I mean, you can’t go wrong with Full Metal Jacket,” chimes Staff Sgt. Andre Edgardo Olaciregui-Perez, who normally craves the comedy stylings of Bill Murray and company. “Stripes is good, too. ‘The name’s Francis Sawyer.  If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I kill ya.’”

Olaciregui-Perez then wades into the danger zone with his next pick, Tony Scott’s 1986 melodramatic ode to military machismo Top Gun. He sums it up in one word: "Lame.”
Tech Sgt Khaliliah Velez is a little kinder. “All I gotta say is Take My Breathe Away. Every time I hear that song, that movie pops into my head, and I liked it," Velez said. "Now, it’s not Air Force, but I like the movie.”
The one movie they all agree is paramount is the untouchable Saving Private Ryan. “This movie, straight from the entrance, the Battle of Normandy” says Gernert. “It’s like—wow—boom—bomb—you know all this stuff going on, everybody ducking down, you hear the splash of the water—splush. It’s just intense, really intense.”

Capt. John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and the Allied
troops land on the beach of Normandy.

For the group assembled at this card table, there are a variety of different missions under their collective belts -- some of which include long deployments. To them, there is a different set of go-to comfort movies: The ones that take them home, when home is many miles and months away.
“They kind of helped me get through my time there,” says Velez. “You know, reminded me of my family and of things that I like to do in the States that I wasn’t afforded in Iraq. The Devil Wears Prada, The Breakup, Failure to Launch, Underworld 2, you always gotta switch it up a little bit. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift was one that was close to home because it reminded me of son because he loves cars. And then, The DaVinci Code, just to kill time. I fell asleep most of the time, you know, it’s a long movie.”
Sergeant Olaciregui Perez has a shorter list of comfort movies. ”I was in Kuwait in 2007 and 2009, and my two favorite movies of all time, that I’ve watched repeatedly over when I was deployed, were Cast Away and Gladiator.”
Cast Away is really interesting cause you know, you have this guy that gets stranded, in the middle of nowhere and really has no hope. But because of his determination in wanting to go back to what was close to his heart, it kind of deals with the same thing as in deployment," Perez said. "You know, you’re ready to go back, but you understand that you have to do certain things at the location. It’s like a journey, or an adventure. That’s why Cast Away is close to me, I guess.”

Maximus (Russell Crowe) addresses the
Roman crowds.

As for Ridley Scott’s action-packed historical epic Gladiator -- that one is a little more obvious.
“Every guy, they all wanna be Russell Crowe in that movie,” says Perez. “You know, screaming out, ‘Are you not entertained?  Are you not entertained? Is this not what you want?’  You know, it’s just very thrilling—it’s amazing.”
It’s also an escape. So in wartime, amid the intensity, the brutality, the loneliness—it’s clear listening to these veterans that in the 21st century, movies are an integral part of the war experience.
“I guess I would tell someone that’s in the military with me, you know, whatever makes you laugh, smile, cry, because we all have different tastes,” says Velez. “Whatever takes you to your happy place—just watch it.”


Moviola's War Movie Picks

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About the Authors
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 


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