INSTRUMENT OF WAR Family Movie Review3 min read

By Rachel Wagner

At first glance, a gritty war movie seems like an odd choice for BYUTV, and an even stranger choice for a Christmas movie, but that’s what we get in the new film Instrument of War and surprisingly it really works.

Instrument of War is the inspirational true story of WWII bomber pilot, Clair Cline, who is captured by the German Army and placed in a prisoner of war camp called Stalag Luft 1. As one might imagine, life in the camp is a very difficult experience but the men band together for their survival. They are starving, freezing, and under the cruel rule of German officer Klaus Schmidt (Urs Rechn). He is very quick to throw soldiers in solitary confinement for the smallest of offenses; a couple of the POWs even begin to lose their grip on sanity.

The soldiers, including a German soldier, get some hope when Clair Cline, trading rations and other possessions to get the tools and supplies, makes a violin. He uses wood from a bed and chair, dried glue from the bottom of chairs, and a piece of glass to carve with. The violin is finished in time for Christmas and Cline is able to inspire the officers with Christmas carols.

The cast is very solid, with Jack Ashton playing Cline as the standout. Rupert Simonian, Elliot James Langridge, and Daniel Betts also put in strong work as fellow soldiers. The production is immersive and handsomely mounted, and the film is well directed by Adam Thomas Anderegg. It feels like a feature film in every way not something for BYUTV. I also liked they had the German soldiers speaking German instead of a lame evil German accent.

The character development was also good. It’s not one of those WWII movies with stock characters (the rebel, shy one, tough guy etc. These are individuals with backstories briefly explored and each soldier handles the rigors of the camp and news from home in different ways. They are also impacted by the goal of the violin in different ways. Some are cynical about it and others see it as a project to bring hope into their lives.

Obviously, the music is essential in a project about inspirational music and the Instrument of War music is up to the task. Composer Mark Isham does a wonderful job creating a subtle score where the violin really shines. The orchestrations of the carols are also beautiful.

Instrument of War can be a bit slow in sections and will be too upsetting for small children, but for older kids and families it is definitely a worthwhile watch. It’s good for older children to see war films and get an idea of what the brave soldiers of our country have suffered in the name of freedom. Instrument of War doesn’t sugarcoat the conditions, but it is not needlessly graphic either. It is a successful balance for the BYUTV audience.

If you are looking for something new and inspiring this holiday season check out BYUTV’s Instrument of War, and you will leave edified and ready to serve those around you more at Christmas. WATCH IT HERE.

GRADE: 8/10

For another beautiful tale of grace, kindness,  and courage in times of brutality check out Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas), based on the incredible true story of a World War I Christmas Eve ceasefire that led to enemies becoming friends. 

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl, singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar, and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado, seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like The Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars: Rebels, and more. For more reviews follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl and on YouTube.

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