Born on the Fourth of July

November 23rd, 2008

I have very mixed feelings about this movie. As someone who has personal experience with the aftermath of the vietnam war and how it affected veterans, it is hard to see this perspective of Kovic that was so dramatically different than my uncle’s. I felt that the movie does a good job of portraying the disillusionment of Americans with the war, but it is somewhat slanted simply because it is based on Kovic’s autobiography – his own experience – just one person and not representative of all veterans. It is safe to say that not all veterans returned and became anti-war protesters, many, like my uncle Bob, were proud to be Marines and stood by America’s decision to go to war (regardless of the poor results and pain that it cause him).  Two years ago, Bob died of brain cancer which has been attributed to his close contact with spreading Agent Orange in Vietnam. He died a proud military man.

The movie does a good job of demonstrating the jarring realities of war – civilian casualties, friendly fire, injured soldiers, VA treatment, returning home, etc. It was hard to watch at times because of the painful dealings that Kovic was put through. The style of the film was jarring as well, which I think added to the overall effect of the film. Overall, the film was pretty accurate… and while not enjoyable, a moving experience.

Long Walk Home

November 18th, 2008

Just aside note before I get rolling on the Long Walk Home – I didn’t post on The Best Years of Our Lives because of the fact that I was freaking out about my thesis and our projects. In a nutshell – I LOVED it. Probably because it was fictional characters with somewhat reasonable predicaments caused by coming home from WWII, but mainly because there was romance EVERYWHERE! My only beef with the film is that it really stunk in terms of gender roles – every woman had a male counterpart and wasn’t complete without that man. GUH gag me. That’s all.

The Long Walk Home was a powerful movie which I enjoyed very much. I felt that in the grand picture of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was right on the money. It also had subtle details that were dead on as well. I felt that the use of fictional characters as opposed to portraying already big named civil rights activists was a good choice by the film makers. It allowed them to have more artistic freedom, but also wasn’t contrived or corny in portraying the well known story of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., whom most people know exactly what they look like – it would just be strange to portray them as persons other than themselves. I know it happens all the time in movies – the one I think of first is Patton, and I feel that this is a good example for my point – we don’t want people to remember these amazing individuals by the actor that portrayed them (as most people do for Patton, heck, I don’t know what the real General looks like but I can picture the movie poster). I felt that in addition to grasping the race relations well, A Long Walk Home also portrayed gender relations well. White women were somewhat obsolete in this time – they had maids to do the majority of their work at home and mothering, and they didn’t work outside of the home, so they listened and obeyed their husbands. On the black side of things there was a good portrayal of how crucial black women were to both white and black families. Everyone was dependent on Odessa (Whoopi). Finally, I personally felt that the most intriguing part of this story is the dissension in the groups – not all whites felt the same about the boycotts, and not all blacks agreed with each other either. The black daughter doesn’t understand the importance of the boycott until her little brother is beat up in defense of her. There is an evolution (and good depiction of the passage of time btw) of how each character felt about the situation. It was very moving.

Overall, two thumbs up. Hey, if McClurken liked it – that says something.