View Full Version : US movies

16-12-2005, 08:53:57
funny, it perfectly describes (as written by a brit in the guardian, but could be anybody outside the US) the experience of a non american watching too many US movies : the appropriation of fakes memories

Jarhead is, nonetheless, an oddity. It begins conventionally enough. There are certain cinematic rites of passage which non-Americans have seen so often that it is almost as if they have become part of their own childhood. I sometimes feel as if I once asked a girl to the senior prom by a bank of metal lockers in the corridor of a mid-western high school; as if I walked through a screen door to shoot baskets with my eager-to-bond father in the twilight in the forecourt outside our non-existent garage; and as if, once, I stood in green fatigues on a hot parade ground, being shrieked at by a sergeant - black, naturally - in a broad-brimmed hat, to whom I would yell back: "SIR, YES, SIR!"

16-12-2005, 13:31:55
Kind of how I felt visiting New York for the first time - as if returning after a long absence...

Nills Lagerbaak
16-12-2005, 13:42:08
From the same article, and why I depsise Holywood war films so much, and won't be watching this one:

"Perhaps it is asking too much of war films to be realistic when war itself is so unlike the reality western audiences know. It's not that actors are incapable of capturing the intensity of men at war. They are. What they cannot do is capture the vacancy of men at war. Apart from the technical difficulty of conveying to cinema audiences the actual loudness of military explosives, and the fact actors are usually too old for raw recruits (Gyllenhaal is 25, his sniping partner Peter Sarsgaard 34, when the average age of boot camp newbies is 19), the dramatic demands of a commercial film make it impossible to capture the salient characteristic of ordinary soldiers - that they are exhausted most of the time.

Jarhead is a war film, but it is constricted, like Platoon, by the narrow vision of the pity-the-soldier genre. Indeed, Jarhead often slips into envy-the-soldier territory for naive young men - the lack of gore, the marines' experience of war as freakish, transient vision, the sheer boyish locker-room fun Swofford and his pals enjoy in the desert as they booze, boogie and flex their torsos, means Jarhead won't be troubling US recruiters in the way today's news footage does. The key to a film about war is how it ends, and if the young man at the film's centre is lifted out of the battlefield uninjured and sane, if his family and home life before and after aren't prominent in the picture, the movie is diminished as a film which says something about war and becomes a simpler story of growing up, of jeopardy overcome. That's what happens to Charlie Sheen's character at the end of Platoon, and that's what happens to Jake Gyllenhaal's character at the end of Jarhead. It is easy to understand why Jane Fonda abominated The Deer Hunter. The Vietnamese characters are not sympathetic or deep, the American soldiers are, and the movie ends with the survivors sitting around the table, singing God Bless America. But that simplistic summary, and Fonda's hostility, mischaracterise the subtlety and complexity of Cimino's feature: the tender slowness with which he describes the home town the conscripts come from, which makes you understand the coldness of the American war machine, the depth of the betrayal involved in hurling trusting young patriots into an incomprehensible nightmare for which their upbringing has not prepared them, and the true, lingering nature of war wounds. And even The Deer Hunter, like all Hollywood war films, carries a morally flawed premise that the world cannot rely on the US film industry to correct: namely that the only truly important thing, in wars waged by Americans, is what happens to the Americans."

16-12-2005, 14:50:49
very true final punch line indeed

but let's be fair, "insert any nationality" war movies are nearly always about the "insert the same nationality" soldiers. There is actually a japanese movie coming out in Japan on the sinking of the Yamamoto cruiser, as seen from the jap sailors, and it got major sticks (from koreans and chinese) for showing too much compassion.

It's only because of the prevalence of US mass culture we get to see it and comment on it.

There are only a few war movies that can adress the universality of the theme with a more global empathy

16-12-2005, 14:53:07
agreed, it's a common 'crime'

all art is a snapshot of life, but it's a fair accusation to say that the scope of the average hollywood film, when dealing with 'serious' or 'real' stuff, is massively limited and unsympathetic to the non-americans

anyway this is threadjacking, the original point is a really interesting and subtle idea, and it shows the extent to which the hollywood machine has exported an entire culture worldwide

Nills Lagerbaak
16-12-2005, 14:58:53
Definitely. That's why I generally avoid war movies. I can forgive hollywood a lot of one-sided story telling, but when it comes to such important topics I can't help but find their bias criminal, especially given the position of influence they are in.

Nout to be done about it though....

23-07-2007, 16:40:44
When I saw A Bridge Too Far, I was disappointed when the mined bridge did not go off. It was almost in that movie as if the movie was about the differences that field commanders have with at home command (from both sides). I had a lot of sympathy with the German officer, who had the moxie to disobey his superiors and blow up a bridge (since he knew counterattack accross the bridges was a chimera). I even liked Sean Connery, who usually comes accross to me as too damn heroic, when you could see that he had really been beaten down, by the week of battle and losing 2/3 of his command.

And then you can even paradoxically see that (despite the normal American "shit on Monty" message), that in a way Monty won and was right and pressed on with the attack in the grand scheme of things. And that whether the Germans blew that bridge or not was irrelevant in the grand scheme.