The War (1994)

# 14963 IMDb PG-13 

The War (1994

taglineWhat's worth fighting for?

Director: Jon Avnet

Stars: Kevin Costner, Elijah Wood, Lucas Black, Christine Baranski, Mare Winningham

Drama (2h 06min)


Rated 6.7 after 11,206 votes on 19-Feb-19.

1 win & 3 nominations


Vietnam War vet Stephen Simmons must deal with a war of a different sort between his son and their friends, and a rival group of children. He also must deal with his own personal and employment problems that have resulted from his Vietnam experiences.


Jon Avnet (director) Elijah Wood Kevin Costner Mare Winningham Lexi Randall Lucas Black Raynor Scheine

Elijah Wood (Stu Simmons), Kevin Costner (Stephen Simmons), Mare Winningham (Lois Simmons), Lexi Randall (Lidia Joanne Simmons), LaToya Chisholm (Elvadine), Christopher Fennell (Billy Lipnicki), Donald Sellers (Arliss Lipnicki), Leon Sills (Leo Lipnicki), Will West (Lester Lucket), Brennan Gallagher (Marsh), Adam Henderson (Chet), Charlette Julius (Amber), Jennifer Tyler (Ula Lipnicki), Lucas Black (Ebb), Justin Lucas (Willard), Raynor Scheine (Mr. Lipnicki), Christine Baranski (Miss Strapford), Bruce A. Young (Moe Henry), Mary Nell Santacroce (Mrs. Higgins), Nick Searcy (John Ray Wilkens), Gary Basaraba (Dodge), Judson Vaughn (Soldier), Jay Brooks (Old Man), Afemo Omilami (Quarry Man), Tim Ware (Fat Man at Auction), J. Don Ferguson (Mine Foreman), Ron Clinton Smith (Ambulance Attendant), Tom Even (Doctor), Dorothy Davis (Nurse), Bill Coates (Catfish Man), Wilson L. Middlebrooks (Field Foreman)

From the same director


Kathy McWorter (written by)

Produced by

Jon Avnet (producer), Todd R. Baker (executive producer (as Todd Baker)), Eric Eisner (executive producer), Martin Huberty (co-producer), Jordan Kerner (producer), Lisa Lindstrom (co-producer), Deborah Love (associate producer), Kathy McWorter (co-executive producer)



It has been said that Vietnam is America's most unpopular war, but in light of both popular opinion and critical oversight, the namesake film may just inch Vietnam out of that role.

The title not only refers to the Vietnam War, which has an appropriate albeit very limited place in the film, but it also refers to the literal war that the children continuously wage with one another and the figurative war that rages within each of them...for identity and purpose.

Personally, I don't feel that "The War" deserves the press it received (or the lack thereof). It is a beautifully crafted film from its intricate, multi-layered story to its moving, realistic performances to its homestyle, nostalgic cinematography.

"The War" combines some of the best elements of "Forrest Gump" and "Fried Green Tomatoes." It captures the nostalgia of its timeframe, the innocence and naivete of youth, the situational humor of the moment, the consequences one's decisions and actions bring, and the tragedy of life. It even contains a couple of "musical" period moments.

Its structure harkens very closely to that of "To Kill a Mockingbird" (my favorite film). Both de-emphasize the star talent (Gregory Peck/Kevin Costner), who still performs remarkably and effectively in a supporting role. Both also utilize a (female) narrator who "bookends" the story in a quasi-flashback style, as well as plays a pivotal (if not the starring) role in the story. Each narrator tells the story of her brother and her father: their growth and what has been learned from and about them.

"Sometimes all it takes is a split second to do something you regret the whole rest of your life." What a great and appropriate theme for a film that few went to see. No wonder so many problems still exist in the world.

Memorable quotes

[Elvadine was falsely accused of interrupting the teacher]
Elvadine: Alright, I'll tell you. I was sayin' "Elvadine, what's YOU gots to write about? Been in the sixth grade your whole good-for-nuthin' life. Ain't GOT no daddy. Never goes anywhere but where your feets take you. Onliest money that ever belong to you in the whole world was twenty dollars you gots yourself in a birthday card, from your uncle last year." But it really wasn't for my birthday. Really, it was for layin' over his lap and letting him spank me with my underpants down. And now here you come along, shovin' me in the back of the room, where I can't even see too good, which means I'm prob'ly not gonna graduate this summer neither, Just 'cuz you read how some white man say Life be like a bowlful o' cherries, I've gotsta come up with some big hit sayin' Well, fine. I'll just write down how happy I'm gonna be to get 20 more dollars on my birthday. Never mind what he's got planned for me THIS year. And I'm gonna write, how maybe the new man my momma been seein' might stop drinkin', and treat me nice, and maybe he's gonna adopt me, and take us off the welfare. And at the end, I'm gonna be sure put:
Elvadine: 'Life Sure is a bowl full of Cherries.'
[back to normal]
Elvadine: But to tell you the truth, Miss Strapford, I think you, and that book, and this whole class, be a bowl full of shit!

32 total 


Film debut of Lucas Black.

4 total 


1 win & 3 nominations 
Political Film Society, USA • Young Artist Awards • YoungStar Awards

Other titles

El arbol de los sueños (Argentina) • Войната (Bulgaria (Bulgarian title)) • A Árvore dos Sonhos (Brazil) • La guerre (Canada (French title)) • La guerra (Chile; Spain; Mexico; Peru) • Das Baumhaus (Germany) • À chacun sa guerre (France) • To dentro ton oneiron (Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)) • Το δέντρο των ονείρων (Greece) • Háború (Hungary) • Jang (Iran (Persian title)) • Karas (Lithuania) • Wojna (Poland) • Sombras de Guerra (Portugal) • Война (Russia) • I krigets skugga (Sweden) • War - Trädkojan (Sweden (video title)) • Savas (Turkey (Turkish title))



Rated PG-13 for the intense depiction of human struggle and conflict


Argentina:13 / Australia:M / Finland:K-8 / Germany:12 / Iceland:L / Netherlands:AL / Norway:11 / Philippines:PG-13 / Portugal:M/12 / Singapore:PG / South Korea:12 / Spain:13 / Sweden:11 / United Kingdom:12 / United States:PG-13



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