Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spoiler Alert

One of my favorite things about movies is that, if done right, they end with a question you have to ask yourself.  Everything is done to build up to that question.  The greatest movie of all time asks a question that every successful suitor faces, and what some movies might call the 6-month question:
Now that I got the girl, what do I do?
Similarly, the best movie of 2009 asks a very difficult, very ubiquitous question.  For centuries, war has asked women one question (What if my son/brother/husband doesn't come back?) and men another question (What if I don't come back?).  We always assume that, if you make it back, society will wrap you in its arms, build you a statue, and try to make it worth your while.

But since the Vietnam fallout, war has asked us a different question, one that has taken us a few decades to work out:
What if my son/brother/husband/I make it back, but he/I can't handle the real world anymore?
The movie doesn't give us the answer, but it asks it very beautifully:

There's also a Russian (or something) dubbed, longer version on YouTube, but this one works.

According to Screenwriter Boal himself:
Both of those scenes, and the juxtaposition between them, sum up the film. . . . The supermarket scene is one that veterans in particular have pointed out to me - it's probably the single scene that they talk about the most, which is surprising to me. It really seems to ring true to a lot of them in the sense of capturing that feeling of being lost when you come back to a normal life.
So that's my two cents.

1 comment:

Pope said...

What was interesting to me was that the scene, when put into the context of the film, was not just about a soldier trying to cope with his adjustment back to "normal life," but about that soldier trying to deal with the fact that the only thing he loves is in that other world.

Contrast that with the final conversation between he and Sanborn. Sanborn admits that he wants a son in a display of his inability to cope with the situation at hand. Sgt. James, on the other hand (after his cathartic "Beckham" experience), has no problem coping with the realities of war.

What I appreciated about the film was that it did not draw any conclusions for me. So many war films seem to actually be message films constructed in the wrapper of war. This, however, was a true war film. It portrayed the good, bad, and ugly, and let me draw my own conclusions from the presentation.