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October 1996, Week 3


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"Richard J. Leskosky" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 10:15:44 -0500
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On 10/15/96 Don Larsson wrote:
>I'd have to see the film again to be sure, but I think the "privileging is
>motivated as the mental reconstruction of the event by Denzel Washington's
>character.  The other flashbacks all accompany narratives by different
>characters who had been eyewitnesses and the conflicts in their testimony
>call them into question.
Don is correct here, but this also links up with a more serious type of
unreliable narrator -- namely, the filmmakers themselves.
Throughout the film, we are shown Denzel Washington's character agonizing
about accidentally killing his friend during a tank battle, flashbacks
(presumably the Washington character's) to this event, and everyone from
his commanding officer to his wife referring to the incident.  BUT it's
only in the last minutes of the film that we are told that this episode was
immediately followed by, and in some ways made possible, Washington's idea
of exposing any enemy tanks which may have infiltrated his lines, the
destruction of those enemey tanks, and the concomitant preservation of the
lives of his own troops.  Wouldn't everyone who talked with Washington's
character normally and routinely refer to that incident as a major military
coup and at least some sort of mitigation of his related error?  Yet the
filmmakers neglect or conceal that information.  The whole drama of the
Washington character's personal turmoil is ultimately compromised, I think,
because of this.  It almost seems as though the scenes relating to this
information were added as an afterthought -- as though perhaps test
audiences filled out comment cards to the effect that they  wanted to see
Denzel Washington in a more positive light and the filmmakers added this
bit to get him off the hook.  Does anyone know if this guess might be
--Richard J. Leskosky
Richard J. Leskosky                        office phone: (217) 244-2704
Assistant Director                             FAX: (217) 244-2223
Unit for Cinema Studies                   University of Illinois
2117 Foreign Languages Building   707 S. Mathews Avenue
                                                         Urbana, Illinois
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