Showing posts with label Catch-22. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catch-22. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jarhead (2005) 3 of 4

** no major spoilers **

After watching this film it occurs to me that it must be difficult being a Gulf War infantry veteran, at times, due to the perception the war was a picnic.  I wouldn't have thought the Gulf War could produce its own version of Full Metal Jacket -- traumatic training followed by traumatic deployment, the need to be half-crazy to survive, lots of cursing and internal sadism -- but Jarhead is that film.  It's a notch from Kubrick's Vietnam flamethrower, but a good war film in its own right. 

Although admitting the relative lack of combat, and though it never overtly references Gulf War Syndrome, Jarhead inspires respect for veterans with its conviction and accuracy, detailing why Marines called service "the Suck."  It's an episodic film, but every one's potent.

In one sequence, we see a line of Iraqi vehicles that have been blasted by U.S. fire, the occupants now charred corpses.  If you stumble upon this scene, you could mistake it for an episode of The Walking Dead or the like.  This is a frequent parallel, between war films and sci-fi/horror films.  Aliens is part of the Vietnam cycle, even if it never mentions that conflict.  Military units were standard in the sci-fi films of the 1950s. 

The commonality between the two genres, war and the fantastic, is that both venture into alien territory (for most of us), and both have to somehow bargain a compromise between skepticism and subversion on the one hand, and loyalty to the familiar on the other.

On their return, the men are greeted by a Vietnam veteran who boards their bus.  The older man fits the stereotype: while not a total flake, he's seen better days and has lost 2-5 marbles.  Still, the young vets betray no disrespect, no matter how many times he says "Semper Fi."  They'll soon be his age.  More important,  the old dude knows combat and the cost of "heroism": what  we stateside pussies will never know.  This received knowledge may be why vets are so often mistreated, down through history: they've done our dirty work, and we resent them, even as we clap them on the back.  If we didn't resent combat vets, we'd give them what they deserve, and their money would be no good in these 50 states.