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September 1998, Week 3


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Lang Thompson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 19:21:14 -0400
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>should have been no military response, it is hard to imagine any
>convincing grounds for calling "pro-war" a film that so devastatingly
>portrays the horror of battle.
While I wouldn't exactly call SPR a "pro-war" film (though any film that
opens and closes with an American flag certainly subsumes any horrors
within a Greater Good) the attitude of many reviewers that the explicit
violence is by definition anti-war seems simplistic at best.  Part of the
pull ("appeal" seems not quite right) of warfare (or more precisely combat
which is not at all the same thing) is that it is outside normal experience
and to have participated sets that person into a select group.  The
violence is an integral part of this process, exactly because it's
something most people would prefer to avoid.   After all, we've *always*
known that war is violent (check "The Iliad" for a start).  To claim that
viewers will see the violence in SPR and think war is horrible and must be
avoided not only assumes a large leap but runs counter to much historical
evidence (after all, did Brady's explicit photographs stop the
Spanish-American War?).  If nothing else, viewers familiar with horror
films not to mention the violent action and crime films from Hong Kong,
Italy and Japan aren't as likely to be devastated by SPR, which is mostly
presented in an anonymous, non-emotional context; I can't be the only
person that found the soldier walking around with his severed arm comic.
Lang Thompson
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