Thursday, September 20, 2007
When the Iraq war was in its infancy and we were thinking we'd be out of there as soon as the parade was over, a few of us thought naively that based on the good we'd done, we could put aside our earlier misgivings. Forget it.
Now, we find ourselves heading toward five years with no end in sight and here come the movies. This is really amazing. The war is still going on and we have all sorts of ink which is a little more acceptable than movies, yet baffling to those of us who tried to publish Vietnam stories for years to no avail. It was years before the writing market opened up and Vietnam didn't find any real movie audience before 78 or 79; first came Deer Hunter and the satire, Apocalypse Now.
SPATE OF NEW MOVIES
I guess it's a sign of the times. There's already been a slew of documentaries and I just saw one on HBO hosted by Tony Soprano--heart rendering about wounded Iraqi vets. Later on this year comes a movie about the rape of a 14 year old by American soldiers. Who's going to want to see this movie? Muslims?
I doubt the new movies will look favorably at our involvement in Iraq. Robert Redford, both writer and actor in one of the coming attractions, Lions For Lambs, hardly will. From what I've read, his movie wants to give movie goers a chance to engage in dialogue. OK!
Another one has to do with FBI counter terrorism unit called The Kingdom and then there is one starring John Cusack as a stay at home spouse whose wife goes to war and doesn't come back. Now, that is going to drive you to the movies.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Hollywood has to do with money, always and I think there's something else, actors who have a name like Redford, often like to make movies with a message.
I'm still a little in doubt about it all. My real feeling is that these movies are not going to do very well overall. I'm not sure that people want to engage viscerally on Iraq--it is not like it is ended and the movies can paint a picture of what happened or can be. We don't know yet.
ENTERTAINMENT VS REALITY
Movie goers want to be entertained not beat up with reality. Going to the movies for entertainment and getting political statements, I don't know. We have some past evidence: I saw Flight 93, which I thought was super but it was not very popular. Clint's Letters from Iwo and Flags of Our Fathers didn't knock anybody's financial socks off. And, even now, Ken Burns is getting beaucoup face time for his upcoming, The War. Maybe, enough already.
I think most of Hollywood is pretty much anti the president and will probably try to convey the war as Bush's war. And, using such a movie as a way to protest or as Redford claims, maybe to educate, might be over reaching. Whether or not movie goers will go for it, we'll have to wait and see. Watching the Iraqi war as a movie seems a little unseemly. Out of every war comes thousands and thousands of stories, most untold. But, to try to tell even a few of them while the real thing is happening seems somewhat misplaced. We don't have to see a movie about Iraq. The tragedy of it is right in front of us.