The Wars of Other Men is an ambitious and stunning independent short film by director Mike Zawacki. It is currently in post-production, but I was privileged to be shown a pre-release press screening of the film and I can only say that I was blown away by what I saw. Set in a pseudo early-20th century setting (the film blends aspects and imagery from both world wars), The Wars of Other Men tells the story of a squad of soldiers dispatched on a dangerous mission to obtain a powerful new weapon from the enemy.
The film’s story is solid and enjoyable, with many of the standard tropes of war movies presented in ways that are both familiar and fresh. We have the grizzled squad commander, the heartless superior officer, and the plucky rookie all presented in a way that feels honest and sincere. The acting talent is good and everyone pulls their weight. Props, camera work, lighting, and sound all work together to create an environment that feels real, and the production team deserves a special kudos for choosing filming locations that really do look like a war zone. The CGI work also gets a nod for doing extremely realistic vehicle work. Finally, the title sequence is one of the most engaging I’ve ever seen, combining motion and detail with an elegance of simplicity that most films no longer use.
The film’s quality and accomplishments are all the more impressive when one takes into account the fact that The Wars of Other Men was put together by a volunteer team working on a shoestring budget. It could easily be mistaken for a Syfy Channel original movie, but it was put together at a fraction of the cost. I don’t think I have to emphasize how impressive that is.
The Wars of Other Men is clearly a labor of love. The setting is a pleasantly innovative steampunk-pulp mashup that sets aside many of the clichés of those genres and instead goes right to the aesthetic source to create a world with a life of its own. I, for one, hope that The Wars of Other Men is not only successful, but that it is successful enough to give life to a whole series of short films or even a feature-length production. It’s certainly worthy of it.