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The relationship between Hollywood and the US military

War may be hell, but for Hollywood, it has been a blessing. For years, war zones have provided the perfect dramatic settings for the creation of courageous heroes that have won the hearts of the public. The military itself recognizes the power of the film industry, and not only encourages Hollywood to create these heroic myths, but provides access to billions of dollars’ worth of military kit, ranging from weapons to helicopter carriers, enabling filmmakers to create remarkable battle scenes. By doing so, over the years, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense have helped ensure that the movies not only suit their own strategy, but also work as a recruiting tool for willing young patriots of war.

Hollywood’s war films have generated enormous revenues at the box office by showing the US military in a positive light since practically the Silent Era. In fact, the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929, went to Wings, a movie that follows the pilots of World War I’s U.S Army Aviation Corps, the predecessor of the modern US Air Force. U.S Army Aviation airplanes were used to shoot the aerial combat scenes for the film. Nearly a century later, what seemed to be just a fledgling collaboration back then has now fully taken off to become one of the world’s most interesting, cross-promotional relationships. The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, even has officers stationed in Los Angeles, specifically for the purpose of working with Hollywood. The Air Force alone has helped with several projects, including Iron Man 2, Army Wives, Top Chef, and Stargate Universe.

A perfect example of this union is Top Gun, the definitive war flick of the ‘80s that would not have been made had the Pentagon not facilitated its production. The movie’s outstanding success at the box office had Air Force recruiters setting up recruiting booths inside theatres.

For Hollywood, this collaboration helped cut down the movie’s budget and add authenticity to its cinematography. Thanks to the Pentagon’s generosity, the Black Hawk helicopter that was used in the movie only cost the studios $3600 per hour, including fuel and aircrew. Naturally, this sort of subsidy came at a cost, as the Pentagon controlled how they were depicted, which included making several changes to the script. A small instance was when the US Navy demanded that Kelly McGillis’ character be changed from that of an enlisted woman to someone outside the service.

A more recent example is Battleship, a film that features the US Navy fighting space aliens. The movie granted Berg and Universal widespread access to military facilities during its production.

On the other hand, not all movies have been as lucky. Many have faced several problems cooperating with the military. Marvel Studios faced such a situation when the military withheld cooperation because of a disagreement that occurred over Nick Fury’s super spy S.H.I.E.L.D. Agency in relation to the US government. Pearl Harbor was refused technical ........ read more.

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