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(Note: The film Gunner Palace will be available on DVD from Amazon on June 28th. Part of the profits will be donated to the Fisher House, an organization dedicated to helping families of wounded troops. To mark the event - and perhaps introduce this movie to newer readers - here's my interview with the man who made the film, conducted at the time of the theatrical release.)
Filmmaker Michael Tucker visits Mudville to talk about Iraq, the blogosphere, and his movie Gunner Palace, opening in theaters this weekend.
A late January day in Iraq, typical of any day of that sort. Except eight million of the locals got up, got dressed, and made their way to the polls to vote on their futures and the future of the world. A few died for the effort, the vast majority did not. And the rest of the world got images; purple fingers, dancing, smiles, and perhaps bit of renewed faith and hope for mankind. I was there, in Baghdad on that day, and that very afternoon, success still in the air, I read this in the NY Times:
Watching "Gunner Palace" - the title refers to the 2-3 Field Artillery's headquarters, the gutted former Uday Hussein palace in Baghdad - you realize the American mission is probably doomed even as you admire the men and women who volunteered to execute it.
Of course Frank Rich wrote that review pre-election, and no doubt expected it to resonate in the atmosphere of failure he anticipated for that day. But what did that mean as far as the movie was concerned? Had he actually seen it? Was it really one that would elicit such a response, or was the reviewer just forcing a square peg into his own pre-drilled round hole, viewing it through his personal filter of defeat?
Because here's what bothered me, reading those rather despairing words on an otherwise fine, fine day. I knew that movie. Mike Tucker, the man who made it, had emailed me a couple of times over the past few months, most recently regarding difficulties with the rating, and...
Hmmm, perhaps it would be best if we did this via flashback. (Now you imagine a wavy appearance to everything as the screen fades to black.... then fades in on...)
A much younger Greyhawk makes his internet rounds, his limber mouse finger clicking swiftly as he moves through the MilBlogs Ring and stops on this post at CPT Patti, a blog (since closed) run by fellow American-in-Germany named Tim, a retired Army Colonel and husband of Cpt Patti, in which Tim wrote:
I have an e-friend named Mike. He makes his living making films (there may be a more specific way to say that...I'm not certain.)
Mike has been to Baghdad at least twice since OIF started. He tells me he wanted to produce a film/documentary (I think) about, well, "the story". He met and followed soldiers. Shot film of the good and the bad.
He made friends with some of these guys. He's lost some of these friends he's made when those friends died in Iraq.
Of his film he says it shows soldiers as who they are. Human beings. See, Mike seems to trust us to be able to handle the fact that human beings are imperfect. So his film isn't one that portrays the US Soldier a la John Wayne. But, more importantly in my mind, it shows soldiers being imperfectly GOOD as well as being imperfectly bad...something that CNN can't seem to do.
So far no one will buy Mike's film for showing on TV or other outlet. It isn't that it isn't good. They've told him it is very good! But they think we the public want more of the same crap they show on CNN day in and day out. (I'm guessing prison scandal movie producers are probably in bidding wars for their films).
So here is my special request. I volunteered to pray that a buyer would come forward to buy Mike's film. Really, honestly say a prayer to that effect.
And I'm asking if you will do the same.
Because our Soldiers and Marines, imperfect as they may be, on the whole are good Americans doing good things. They deserve to be shown that way - warts and all (not "warts and more warts" as CNN does) by the public. And Mike is a guy trying to do that but the elites in the media don't seem to understand most that The America I Live In wants to see this sort of stuff.
So please, lets do our Soldiers and Marines a favor...and Mike too. Please promise me you will say a quick prayer that this film finds a buyer.
"Hey..." I thought, immediately dropping into my role as one of the stewards of the blogosphere, "I wonder if I could help bring attention to this - and if the blogosphere could make something happen here?" After all, in the first few months of existance Mudville had already helped thwart the evil machinations of the William Morris Agency. So who knows what a blog post might accomplish?
So I did two things. First I posted a link to Tim's post, and then I emailed Glenn Reynolds, a fellow steward of the blogosphere who's always on the lookout for interesting links. He linked too, and together we sent thousands of readers over that way. ;)
Would it matter? Prayer is a powerful thing, but if everyone in the industry had the same attitude as is expressed in this German media quote from David Kaspar you'd think that's exactly what they didn't have:
All German TV networks and stations rejected tucker's documentary. Not all of them rejected the film because they considered it unstructured or thought, as was written in one rejection notice, that "given the current state of the public discussion of torture and Iraq's future it will be difficult to find a station willing to broadcast [the film]." Even those broadcasters who thought Tucker's film was the most vivid available portrait of the American soldiers in Iraq were afraid their viewers wouldn't understand. It's true. Tucker's Gunner Palace presents a completely different portrait of American troops than does Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Tucker has no agenda and no enemy - and therefore, perhaps, also no friends in Germany
Tucker was undaunted; he had a tale to tell, and it was important to him. Up against formable barriers and needing a way to develop a groundswell of support he tapped something known to relatively few people at the time; the Power of Blogs.
I received my first email from Tucker shortly thereafter, introducing me to the blog he started about the film. I linked it, and by this point in time a few other blogs were linking to him as well, but I was actually getting ready to deploy to Baghdad myself and didn't have time to follow any developments in the story.
So now fade back in on today. What happened in those intervening months to make a film about "our Soldiers and Marines, [who] imperfect as they may be, on the whole are good Americans doing good things" and presenting "a completely different portrait of American troops than does Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11" into something now referred to as "A companion piece of sorts to Fahrenheit 9/11". Could Mike really have called his own movie a "Trojan horse" to get the average, support-our-troops American to think realistically about the war as he was quoted?
Once again - blogs fill the knowledge gap. This review by Armed Liberal at Winds of Change seemed fair:
My reaction to the movie while I was watching it was complicated - up, down, sideways, and back again. And when it was over, I was ready to sit back down and see it again, which is a strong vote that you go see it as well.
The couple that made it tried hard to make a nonpolitical film about the war - which will, doubtless, satisfy no one. It frustrated me, as someone who sees the war fundamentally politically (and I don't just mean in the narrow sense of domestic politics). And then I just started watching it.
MilBlogger Phil Carter got to see the screening too.
To call the movie "powerful" would be an oversimplification. It was that, but it was so much more too. "Gunner Palace" does what no book, no news article, and no blog can do - it makes the soldiers of 2-3 FA come alive for those experiencing the movie, in a way they could only do if they were in person. The movie shows little of the war as we see it on CNN or in DOD press conferences; you don't learn about grand strategy or tactics, or the push/pull of victory and defeat. Instead, what you hear are soldiers' stories - from the privates to the sergeants to the captains to battalion commander LTC Bill Rabena, a colleague of mine from Fort Hood.
Lefty blogger Kevin Drum linked Carter's review, and his post prompted the following comments from his readers, perhaps giving insight to how some on the left will receive the film:
I'm sorry, but this business about what "heroes" "our troops" are is growing more than a bit old, a bit thin, and a bit stale.
I'm sorry that so many people either have a chip on their shoulders or a guilt trip about Vietnam, but a most these are a bunch of joes no better and no worse than anyone else. They don't have halos and I - for one - am getting tired of this.
Moreover, there has been quite a lot of prisoner and civilian abuse going on and the invasion of Iraq is a crime for which they - as volunteers and under Nurenburg principles - bear some responsibility.
There is something weird about this and - no - they are most definitely not standing up for democracy. I aprehend that their real mission may very well be quite to the contrary.
So let's get over "the troop" worship.
Posted by: Thinker on February 25, 2005 at 2:17 PM
How about a film about the life of an ordinary family living in Fallujah? Then maybe I'll take notice.
Posted by: charles on February 25, 2005 at 2:36 PM
So, any news when the movie about being at the business end of an American GI's gun is going to come out?
How about those people who are collateral damage in the pin-point bombing?
How about some follow-up to that Iraqi wedding party that got blown to smithereens?
And, have conditions improved in Abu Ghraib? How many people, exactly are being held there? How long have they been there?
Halliburton is getting a bonus for their work in Iraq?
And, how about those Iraqis who have to wait in line for a day to fill their gas tanks?
How many Iraqis have died due to poor sanitary conditions - lack of water, electricity(Air Conditioning in the summer must have caused hundreds and hundreds of deaths).
Any idea when that movie is coming out Kevin?
No, I didn't think so. I guess Americans all like to play GI Joe.
Posted by: Michele on February 25, 2005 at 2:42 PM
Others speculate that it's Tucker and co-director Petra Epperlein who are spitting on the troops. Ken Tucker (no relation to Mike), in New York Magazine:
Watching Gunner Palace, I initially wondered whether the filmmakers, Michael Tucker (no relation) and Petra Epperlein, were like the people who used to spit on Vietnam veterans when they returned home. Their anger -iin this case, about America?s invasion and subsequent "rebuilding" of Iraq - seemed gravely misplaced. Instead of criticizing the Bush-administration policies their film so clearly detests, Tucker and Epperlein train their cameras on the people involved in this engagement who have the least power. These are, of course, the soldiers, who are made to look, most of the time, like irresponsible fools.
For the record, Tucker is from a military family, he's not spitting on the troops.
(Side note: don't worry - no one's spitting on the returning troops. That didn't even happen during Vietnam, as James Wolcott explains in his discussion of the film - for those who need the deranged moonbat point-of-view).
All of this leaves me eager to see the film and decide for myself - something I didn't feel a need for with Fahrenheit 9/11. But I won't be able to until it opens in Germany, either in AAFES theaters on base or in the Kinos outside the gates. But I didn't have to wait to find answers to some of my questions - because I had Michael Tucker's e-mail. He's been stateside this past week and obviously busy doing the pre-debut media blitz associated with any premier. But I contacted him and on the eve of opening day he graciously took time from his schedule to respond.
Without further ado - my conversation with Mike on blogs, war, and Gunner Palace.
Greyhawk: Congratulations on the opening of Gunner Palace. I know it was a long haul, and there were a few blogs 'with you all the way'. You've even got a blog roll of sorts on the movie site. Did blogs help move the project forward?
Michael Tucker: Blogs helped during production to hear a diversity of perspectives on the war. Favorites in the Mil sector include Trying to Grok, CPT Patti's Husband and Blackfive. It was useful to read these people to know what military families were experiencing and to hear from people on the ground. While I have my own experiences, it is often useful to compare notes--to take the pulse of America.
When we first released clips from the film, bloggers were the ones who responded. That interest helped spark festival interest--an internet footprint can be measured and provides instant feedback to distributors.
GH: How did the project get started? How did you get to Iraq?
MT: I went to Iraq the first time in May 2003 with a German armored car salesman to make a film about the security business. That led to another trip in June/July 2003. While we were running around Baghdad we got to know many soldiers--most from 1/36 Infantry. They traded us food for phone calls. During that summer you could see the "war" falling off the front pages, while kids were dying every week. I went out on a few patrols and decided that there was a film in it. I returned in September 2003 and heard about 2/3 FA, their pool (it was hot) and their palace.
GH: Are you still in touch with the guys - what do they think of the finished product?
MT: Most of the soldiers in the film have seen it and are pleased with the results. They are the toughest critics, so I showed it to them first in Giessen, Germany in July and later in September. We just were on tour for six weeks which brought us to 15 cities where many Gunners as well as soldiers from other units screened it. The response from OIF Vets, especially from that time period, has been amazing. I think the film captures the essence of place as well as some of the character of today's Army. In Fayetteville, it screened through the roof which made me happy. Again, tough critics.
GH: How many theaters is it opening in? Is this big, nationwide? (It should be!)
MT: We open tonight in NYC, DC, LA and SF. On the 11th we had 15 more cities. On the 18th we should be in the top 40. These first weeks are critical.
GH: You've called the movie non-political, said it's about nothing more than the story of the guys in the film. But more than a few major-media columnists/reviewers are labeling it an anti-war classic. What would you say to them to set them straight?
MT: I left my politics at the palace gate. You do see some contrast between what war planners are saying and what war fighters are doing. Iraq has become very personal for me. I don't see it through a political lens anymore, rather an emotional one. I've made many friends, and lost a few. Iraq is also a place that is not black and white. It is one big gray area. I've tried my best to show reality--good and bad.
As for antiwar? I don't think it is possible to make a film during a time when young Americans and Iraqis are dying every day that is not antiwar. However, I think the film is more complicated than that. Rather, it challenges what many of us think of the war from afar. Up close and personal, it feels different. When you are in the middle of it, again, it becomes personal.
GH: No one is more anti-war than the soldier. Speaking of soldiers, who's that picture of - in the advertising? It looks like a young kid in a helmet.
MT: That is SPC Tom Susdorf. Age 20 when the pic was taken by me. He had just come off an escort. I love the pic 'cause he looks (and is) so young. He was one of my room-mates--great kid with about a month left in the army. He's going to college, so he'll be the only freshman with his face on a poster (freckles and all).
GH: I've been there - many of the faces are young.
Back to the antiwar theme, anti-war demonstrations generally draw large crowds - or did a few months back before the success of our efforts in Iraq became more obvious. A few groups are doing 'counter demonstrations' - Protest Warrior, etc. But generally they attract relatively few people. We could speculate endlessly on why that is, but the fact is, that's the way it is. Regardless of real numbers of each camp, the 'anti' side is the one that brings people out. Does that factor in to the marketing of the film?
MT: No. I think both camps can learn from these soldiers and they are. Look at the review in Salon today. Amazing. I feel like I was successful in telling the story of these soldiers in a way that humanizes them- so people care what happens to them and the Iraqi people. It feels great that people are taking the war more personally when they view this film--connecting with a few faces so they have a reason to care.
All I want is for people to care and talk about the war. That is what bloggers do every day and I am thankful for all the bloggers--no matter their opinions--who care about what is happening in Iraq. You've kept the war where it belongs: as the only story that matters.
GH: Thanks Mike - I know you're busy, good luck, break a leg, etc!
Like Frank Rich's comment that started this post, most 'anti-war' statements already seem outdated - overcome by events, by the nascent freedom movement now just beginning to rise in the region. If Gunner Palace is such a statement it will be immediately and painfully obvious to the viewer. But I don't think that's the case.
Obviously the movie is not without controversy - that should surprise no one. The bottom line is if you made a movie about the war in Iraq that wasn't controversial then you somehow failed to capture the essence of the war. Based on the comments and reviews Tucker and Epperlein captured that essence quite well. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. For those of us in Germany, Mike also mentioned he's trying to get a special print for the 1st Armored Division.
For those of you who responded to Tim's original request - you're prayers have been answered. See Gunner Palace tonight in New York City, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Fifteen more cities on the 11th and nationwide by the 18th. Contact your local theaters and see when Baghdad will come to your town.
21 May Update: via email, Michael Tucker:
The DVD comes out on June 28th. Presales on Amazon now
We started an initiative with Fisher House last week--we gave them the first check ($10,000) of what I hope will be a sizable donation based on DVD sales. I'm off to Iraq next week to see how things have changed and to get some images that will support a project for orphans that one former Gunner is getting off the ground.
Note: Reposted from 2005-03-04 22:25:43
FYI, if you don't think people got spit on coming back from VietNam, you really need to talk to my buddy Reds who I worked with for a number of years. When he came back, he was spit on and verbally assaulted.Posted by Chad at March 4, 2005 10:49 PM
I know plenty of guys who were spit on upon return from Vietnam - literally and figuratively. The real myths about Vietnam vets are in B. G. Burkett's book Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History
That's a must-read.Posted by Greyhawk at March 5, 2005 01:36 AM
I love this post!! I'm going to call my local theater and demand that they show this movie for five months straight.Posted by frankwolftown at March 5, 2005 03:03 AM
I alos served with a couple of old NCOs who also told me they got spit when they came back from Vietnam. One of them had just got out, being a draftee, and when that happened to him he turned around and reenlisted.Posted by Eric Blair at March 5, 2005 03:26 AM
More on spitting:
"From Publishers Weekly
"Chicago Tribune staffer Greene composed several of his syndicated columns around responses he received from Vietnam vets after he asked whether any of them had been spat upon. Unfortunately, the enormous impact of the columns is lost in their expansion to book form. Some servicemen were spat upon on their return, but more suffered verbal abuse or icy indifference. ..."
Several months ago, an 'anti-war' creep told me I was 'a liar' to claim that Viet Vets were spit on. He said vets being spit on was a myth because..."here, read this book...blah, blah"...which turned out to be some polemic from some former hippie-turned-lefty-college prof excusing the excesses of the '60's.
I looked at the cover which contained a blurb from another professor I know personally (he's my parents' neighbor) to be a commie and an asshole. So then I thumb through the book which basically argues...get this...that since there are no media reports in the contemporary press of the period of vets being spit on, it never happened!
Now, I'm only 41 so I wasn't aware of a lot at the time but Vets since have told me stories I have no reason to doubt. One former Marine, missing an arm, told me he was asked as a SUNY-Albany freshman in '73 what happened to his arm. He replied, "Vietnam". The chick said, "Good! You deserved it!"
I say 'thank you' to every vet I meet. Whether they're 80, 50, 35, or 20. Virtually everyone of 'em almost blush and wave it off.
I say you guys are the best. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.Posted by JDB at March 5, 2005 04:13 AM
The ripples of freedom spreading through the Middle East have Bush critics caught in the equivalent of a short squeeze.Posted by GaijinBiker at March 5, 2005 04:30 AM
I have a post that I was going to link to your next open Mudlink, but what I was going to say about my piece actually works into this one fairly well. So, anyway....
It's a takeoff of an analysis by Wretchard at Belmont about a debate Victor Davis Hanson had. (Yes, I'm piggybacking on two great minds. Best way to get a decent blog post, if you ask me.) I contend that the fundamental difference between Left and Right is that the Left believes people are fundamentally good and are improving all the time and the Right thinks people are fundamentally evil and really haven't changed all that much in human history.
After I wrote the post, I thought a bit more about how this played out in views on the military; as it happens, I think it encapsulates the reaction from the Kevin Drum board. If you believe people are basically good and that war can be "grown out of", it's hard enough to explain the nastiness and evil in the world. How, then, could you ennoble those who make lethality their profession? You'd think people who kill are turning against their nature and that they're perpetuating an old, outdated view that enlightened people have left behind.
For the Right, however, what soldiers have done is to conquer their base nature and place it in service of their neighbors and countrymen. Since we believe people are still pretty much the same fallen creatures throughout history, we not only honor their current sacrifice but treat them with the same respect we continue to give heroes of the past. (The harsher episodes of war also strike a chord with us as we know that soldiers always have the tiger on a leash that sometimes slips free. The Right understands; the Left feels betrayed.)
So I suspect this movie will evoke empathy and respect from the Right while setting the Left spinning once again in its own cocoon. (Again, if anyone's interested, my longer thoughts are here.)Posted by slarrow at March 5, 2005 04:51 AM
Jason Van Steenwyk has a posting up by some leftoids that ought to bring up your blood pressure! At least it did mine. What is wrong with these people to be this twisted in their thinking?Toni at March 5, 2005 05:02 AM
Well, I for one am skeptical about Tucker's claims of this movie being non-political. An anti-war friend of mine went to a screening a while ago and liked it because it reinforced her view of US soldiers as "bumbling idiots". She clearly thought it was an anti-war movie, and she's the kind of person who thinks the New York Times is rightwing biased.
It also doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when I see the airbrushed picture of the young soldier being used as promotional material. It is just too obvious that it was altered to make the soldier look even younger than he is, which leaves me with no doubt that this movie is pitched at the anti-war crowd.Posted by Trapeze at March 5, 2005 05:17 AM
About the spitting, when I came home (Jan-70)it was with other wounded. We landed at a military airport. Don't ask me more because I was so doped that I really didn't know I was in a different hospital for a couple of days.
But, in re-hab, we all talked and related stories we had "heard" about the homecoming some guys were getting. It was not good.
Later in the seventies, I remember seeing on tv, films of the protesters at the airports and bus stations, yelling, screaming insults spiting and generally acting like wild animals. The police had fences and baracades holding them back.
As far as the film, I don't intend to see it. It would most likely re-kindle things I do not need.
My memories have settled down and have been worn smooth over the last almost four decades. I don't need them to be re-defined.
But, Kids will be kids, even if they are in uniform, when they are not on the gun line. As far as scaring civilians and destroying doors. That is just a fact of war.
No more, No less
Later inPosted by Papa Ray at March 5, 2005 05:43 AM
When I was air-evaced back to the States from Thailand in 1970 (blood infection, not wounded) the hostility was so thick that it permeated everything. Even in rural Oregon, which was pretty supportive of the military, I ran into people that would spit at me and call me names. No one ever spit ON me though, just in my direction. I was called a "babykiller" by a girl that I had had a crush on since 5th grade. I was never even assigned to Vietnam but it made no difference.
I reenlisted and went back to Thailand and ended up spending 16 of my 21 years out of the U.S..
I decided that if I was going to be treated like shit, it might as well be by people that might have some basis for their hostility. But I don't think that I was ever treated as badly overseas as I was in the U.S..
I hope these kids won't go through what a lot of soldiers went through, but I know that there are people out there that just can't wait to start calling them "babykillers" again.Posted by John Dunshee at March 5, 2005 06:35 AM
I contend that the fundamental difference between Left and Right is that the Left believes people are fundamentally good and are improving all the time and the Right thinks people are fundamentally evil and really haven't changed all that much in human history.
What do you do with somebody, who believes that people are mostly good, capable of evil and that human nature exists and haven't changed that much in human history?
The Left claims to love humanity, they are actually self-loathing little shits, who'd stab their grandmother in the back for a buck and a half. What they accuse others, is really what they think of themselves and of people. Then they feel justified in acting in the worst possible ways.Posted by Jabba the Tutt at March 5, 2005 10:44 AM
I plan on seeing the movie, but I remain deeply suspicious of any war movie that promises to "tell it like it is". As a documentary, it is probably more accurate than say, Platoon or M*A*S*H or even Saving Private Ryan, but it's still been edited to tell the story that the producers want to tell.
I served in the Marines, but like millions of other members of the Armed Forces, I never saw combat. The US military has become so specialized that it is possible for a soldier to serve in a combat zone and never hear a bullet whine. This has produced a hunger among the public for "genuine" war stories, like those told in Gunner's Palace.
The problem is, the people who are in charge of telling these stories are usually opposed to any war for any reason, and they tend to portray war as a futile waste and most soldiers as cynical cowards.
The most genuine war stories I have heard were from my late father, who spent nearly three years in the Navy during WWII. The only time he got to go home and see his family was if his ship had been badly damaged and needed repairs. He spent the afternoon of October 24, 1944, mopping up the blood and picking up the body parts of some 400 of his shipmates. Yet he was never cynical or bitter. He was the most patriotic man you ever met.
So when I hear or see stories about how some reserve supply unit in Iraq is pissed about having their tours extended, or how "soliders dying every day" is somehow a sign of crisis, or how the Iraqi war is unwinnable, I can't help but roll my eyes. Americans have lost the proper perspective of war, and I'm afraid movies like Gunner's Palace won't help them recover it.Posted by Captain Holly at March 5, 2005 03:33 PM
That photo reminds me of the famous 'Marlboro man" Marine from Fallujah. Clean him up and he looked 20 years younger. Guess photoshop works even better than a hot shower.
Maybe I should use it to retouch my photos on those singles sites...Posted by Picture Perfect at March 5, 2005 04:16 PM
Book "To America"
details an incident on the campus of the University of New Orleans, hardly a hotbed of liberalism. I suppose Ambrose will now be pilloried as a right wing nutcase, but I think his reputation will stand on a lifetime body of work. Anyone who lived through that time and says that these things did not happen was either a recluse or a liar.Posted by Ronnie in New Orleans at March 5, 2005 04:40 PM
If our effort were truly doomed, I would still think it was the right thing to do. The left's lack of faith in the values it claims to treasure is pathetic. I admire our military for their professionalism and courage, but more than those, for their willingness to work at making things better. People like Frank Rich seem to pride themselves on their cynicism. If that is "liberal," they have destroyed the meaning of the word, which started out meaning "favoring freedom."Posted by AST at March 6, 2005 07:07 AM
Trapeze, Captain Holly, and others:
I have written a review of Gunner Palace, and taken a look at some reviews (from anti- and pro-war positions), and I think the best thing about this movie is that rather than conveying a message or make implications, the movie really does do its best to stay politically ambivalent, and is open to interpretation -- it gives the soldier's stories, and lets you take it as you want it. I hope your skepticism doesn't keep you from seeing this film.
My post is in the Trackback section.Posted by Andrew Watkins at March 6, 2005 01:12 PM
Gunner Palace may not meet the expectations of every blogger and politics will color what people see in the movie, but what is truly remarkable as has been discussed in the earlier posts is what blogging has done to facilitate a diverse passionate discussion- of the war, of life, of everything. People will sit and eat pizza together and have a beer and not mention anything of substance but get on the internet and all the opinions and passion comes out.I appaud that and I applaud Gunner Palace for the same reason. In giving us a story/ granted a small glimpse into real time in Iraq, the filmmakers have provided a forum for discussion and what amazing discussions they are..left or right; fact based or emotional, the debate can give us hope. We all care passionately about something; we are willing to debate, and maybe we can learn something new.
And in that reward, democracy is alot safer.
Its funny how left and right disappears when you are in a hostile situation. When the only thing standing between you and a crazed invader is the United States military, it gives you a whole new perspective on things.
Nothing wrong with poking fun at soldiers. But keep in mind that they are standing between you, and those that want to harm you. In that situation, where abstractions disappear, the U.S. military can look awfully good, warts and all.Posted by jordan at May 21, 2005 02:28 PM
I saw the pre-screening and the theatrical release, I will buy the DVD. In a few years, when my kids are old enough, I will show it to them in an effort to explain why I was gone so long and a little of what it was like to be in Iraq.Posted by SFC SKI at May 22, 2005 01:13 AM
"An anti-war friend of mine went to a screening a while ago and liked it because it reinforced her view of US soldiers as "bumbling idiots"."
People see what they tend to want to see in things. The best books are that way, too. If it's not subject to interpretation it means that the author has told you what you're supposed to think about it.
I'm not big on war movies (I sympathise Papa Ray, and there's nothing wrong with not wanting to see it.) I'll probably get the DVD.
I doubt the "bumbling" will seem a problem to me. I expect young men to act like young men. The need to decompress and deal with stress is going to make that even more so. *Actual* military action never quite goes according to plan. (Am I right?) Professionalism and training is the only reason it works at all when things are chaos and no one can quite figure out what's going on. (You guys who have done this, go ahead and tell me if I'm wrong.)
People seem to have some really weird ideas about the military, particularly the anti-war crowd (is there a better way to say that since GI's are about as anti-war as a person can get?) I'm not quite sure what it is. I was relating Skippy's list (Skippy?... the one with everything he's not allowed to do in the Army) to my daughter's friend (liberal vegetarian family) and she says, "That's why I could never join the military," and something about having a sense of humor. Apparently she'd come to the conclusion that our military requires people to be humorless automotons.
Like in a bad movie or something.Posted by Julie at May 22, 2005 02:16 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(22) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)