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September 1998, Week 3


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Ed Owens <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 17 Sep 1998 10:56:42 +0000
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Scott Hutchins wrote:
> ...the fact that James Francis Ryan was the all-American soldier boy who did
> want to leave, and the fact that Cpl. Upham had to kill "Steamboat Wille" to
> make the transition to become a soldier suggests that the war and serving
> your duty is the right thing, without question....
I don't think the film shows either of these things in the positive light you
to suspect.  First and foremost, both of these events are very small parts in
overall picture and hardly bear the weight of determining the ideological thrust
of the entire film.  Secondly, why do you say that Upham's killing of "Steamboat
Wille" makes him a soldier?  My view of it was that Upham lost something in the
exchange rather than gaining it.  And even if he did "make the transition,"  I
think the film very strongly dcries that transition...Yes, Upham is now "a
soldier," but at what price?
As for Ryan's "All American boy," his gung-ho "I'll die with the troops"
so prevalent when there is no gunfire, is nicely undercut by the single image of
him cowering beside the wall at the height of battle.  If any comment is to be
made about the "All American boy," it is the images they carry off with them
Wayne, Glory and Honor) versus the realities with which they return...if they do
return.  I see neither of these as supporting duty without question.
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