Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What About The Draft


Martin Sheen directs his son Charlie in a military war of wills. It is a story about a rebellious white recruit befriended by African American prisoners in a West German Army stockade. Lawrence Fishburne is the cell block boss.

This is a movie that works on all kinds of levels. First of all, Vietnam is just heating up. It is 1965. Charlie Sheen is a youngster, emotionally lost, struggling to somehow put things right in his life and with his Dad who dies before he can. Somehow, the Army is all part of the plan. After the death of his Dad, he spirals down even further, goes back to Germany and gets worst. He's thrown into the stockade (jail) for 90 days. He's stubborn, unyielding and the jailhouse boss, Martin Sheen, is determined to break him. In the course of his attempts at breaking this upstart young soldier, Martin, a senior non commissioned officer, comes emotionally apart.

This is the "draft" Army. The movie doesn't deal with issues like, what am I doing here, how did I make this choice, it just was. In this draft Army, there's all kinds, sharing the collective experience.

On another level, it's a movie about race relations. The military has always been way above society in general in living with each other. And, the draft military had all the racial issues but was beginning to confront institutional racism. Cadence is a good example. Here is Charlie, the lost, stubborn young soldier who just wants to get by, live and let live. He faces the challenges, wins over the black charges with whom he lives and in the course of events, the implication is that he found himself. A good movie to watch with Iraq in mind. At least three parachutes

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