“Tunes of Glory” is analytical as an intellectual film and it is also intense realistic acting-mediated in the best tradition of British theatre. The leading actors – Alec Guinness and John Mills – make the life of emotions of their characters the main vehicle of directorial analysis, with the help of the plot which is semantically crystallized with the articulateness of architectural motifs.

The film dismisses the commonly held belief that wars logically precede the existence of militaries (that armies exist to protect countries from enemies). The opposite is true – that armies “invent” wars to justify its existence. The main point (story) of the film is fight between two colonels for the commanding position in the Scottish battalion. The film insists that war is a function of an extremely hierarchical (based on unconditional subordination) structure of the army as a social institution. Fight for a higher place in the social hierarchy as a specific social behavior is, according to the film, a prototype of war-mongering and war-making. Societies with more intense competition for higher positions are more prone to be war-oriented. People for whom career-making is more important than contemplative and spiritual values are more belligerent and pro-conflicts and pro-war oriented.

The director and actors do a psychotherapy with the viewers by making us identify with charismatic characters and their glorious and deeply psychologically rooted fight for superiority, and at the same time they make us come to feel revolted by the inhumanity and immorality of this fight (whatever patriotic and humanistic justification for it our macho-shining heroes use). While experiencing the film we turn against ourselves, against our own unconscious belligerency and taste for winning.

The film analyzes the logical mechanism of tactical-strategic thinking and the psychology of human emotions involved in competition/fight/war. The film also provides the description of the types of women in relation to machoistic values and norms, and classification of the positions towards violence among servicemen.

While watching this film I, who long ago served for three years in a Soviet army as a private and remembered the psychology of Russian “warriors“ in the officer corps, couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. On the screen people talked in English with impeccable British intonational mannerisms, but I was hearing Russian words pronounced with the same emotions, when narcissism of unconscious self-glorification is blended with intolerance for contradictions, toughness in personal clashes and with permanent readiness for war. When I emigrated to the West I was naïve enough to think that I luckily will never meet again this race of military males with their hypertrophied masculinity and pathetic pride. Ronald Neame’s “Tunes of Glory” for me was a masterful negative prophesy of the 21st century of mass totalitarization and militarization of Western democracies.

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A solemn moment – the leading officers of the battalion are greeted with the glorification by the music of the pipes.

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Alec Guinness in the role of Jock Sinclair gave us chance to understand the very soul of universal conservative sensibility, but also the very incompatibility of this human type with life and humanistic development of humankind. We, viewers, understand, although suffer with Sinclair’s daughter, the fact that she couldn’t continue to have relations with her father as he is. Even if you have sympathy for conservatives and empathy for their ways of perceiving the reality, it is only through radical refutation of their ideas you can develop as human being.

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Sinclair’s daughter Morang violated her father’s order never visit the barracks – she waits until her secret beloved – the piper of the battalion, will have a second of break.

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Jock Sinclair, without understanding what exactly motivates him to behave so impatiently, insists on sleeping with his mistress exactly when he feels humiliated with the appearance of the new colonel (situation that automatically makes him second in command). She is refusing him by the same reason he is insisting – with the arriving of the new colonel, Jock is in a weaker position in the battalion. By pressing her to “surrender” he (unconsciously) hopes to restore his self-esteem, but if she will “support” a person in a weak situation she will “lose hers”. For her at this point it’s more pleasure to laugh at him than to love him. To return to Jock she first needs to see how his fight with the new superior will go. She can feel herself in stronger position and be really sexually aroused by exciting Jock to fight to the very end, like in real war. She is exactly the opposite of Jock’s daughter who is trying to persuade her father not to fight but to collaborate with the new commander.

Posted on April 19, 2011 –   Ronald Neame’s “Tunes of Glory” (1960) – The Sunbeams of Military Machismo: The Perverse Beauty of Internalized Militancy by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Nov, 2 2017 –   Preparation For War: Vicious (In All Too Human Way) Battle For Domination – From Ronald Neame’s “Tunes of Glory” (1960) by Acting-Out Politics