We all watched and maybe even loved stories of great heroes – kings, queens, generals – leading their armies to victory or glorious defeat. Each country or culture has its own such historical names that may have existed or not, and there are international names acknowledged and respected internationally. Nevertheless, we know about Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon and so on to name some less politically controversial names, but what do we know about all the nameless foot-soldiers that fought in the first lines?
This post will be dedicated to these people and their portrayal in literature and in media, more or less contemporary.Of course, as this is a blog post and not a historical paper, I will not go on and cite all possible examples, but I will raise a few questions that I always ask myself when I read or watch historical fiction involving war in some form.
What I mean is that even if there is always emphasis on honor and doing the right thing for the world, the country, the people, whatever the context and the battle may be, nobody cares about the characters that are usually played by unknown and unnamed extras that are shot, slashed, cut in pieces, and so on. Is it that nobody cares about those individuals, or is it just that it’s complicated to care for every character in the story. I mean, it is fiction … sort of… anyway, right? People aren’t actually dying, right?
My question is not leaning toward any political colour or direction, as much as it could appear to be leftist, as I myself cannot clearly define myself and my opinions as being x or y. I was just wondering if anybody watching such movies or reading such stories in whatever form they might be published or released had this painful revelation. Does anybody care about all those unimportant pawns? Are they allowed to have a name, are we interested in finding it out? Do we care they all have a family or dear ones that will cry for them? Or are we just applauding the hero and how great a warrior he or she is?