Posted: August 29th, 2013
Final Film Critic.
Final Film Critic
We Were Soldiers is a movie based on the World War 2 in Vietnam. It involves the invasion of Vietnam by the United States military. Colonel Moore (Mel Gibson) is an experienced leader who dedicates his life to save his country and his fellow soldiers. At the beginning of the movie, Colonel Moore has to come to terms with the thought of leaving his wife and children, which takes a toll on him. Colonel Moore apart from being a no-nonsense soldier is a very compassionate husband and loving father to his children. His wife is a very persevering woman who has endured a lot of pain, despite her experiences she has been a pillar of strength by offering her family with the moral support they needed. She is also involved in organizing meetings for soldiers’ wives in an effort to persuade them to offer moral support to their husbands and offer support to each other. The film has excellent storytelling, acting cinematography, editing, sound and an overall vivid critical analysis factors. All these components make the film a must watch for anyone who has not had the chance to do so. The film conveys a message of hope, freedom, and patriotism, which are clearly depicted in the movie by the zeal with which the soldiers are ready to defend their countries, both from the Vietnamese point of view and from United States perspective (Internet Movie Database, 2002).
We Were Soldiers is a concept that was inspired by Randall Wallace motion pictures, in conjunction with Paramount Pictures to come up with one of the most fascinating movies based on war. The film is set in the year 1969-1975. The film shows its ability to explain the reasons for the Vietnamese war against the Americans by giving vivid accounts in the war, which was entirely based on a true war. The screenplay is written by Harold G. Moore who based the movie on stories narrated by war veterans and on the book ‘We Were Soldiers Once …. And Young’ written by Lt Colonel Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway (Internet Movie Database, 2010). The movie has the following cast, Mel Gibson as Colonel Moore, Madeleine Stowe as Mrs. Moore. The cast also features other prominent and great actors in the film industry such as Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliot Chris Klein and others. Cinematography is worked on by Douglas Beale. The movie has very strong cinematography aspects in that the quality of the pictures is excellent, for example at the beginning of the movie the movement of military helicopters and the sight of soldiers jumping from helicopters is very spectacular. The movie also uses color tinge to add to its attractiveness and lure the audience with attractive and quality images. The cinematography uses both objective and subjective cameras to give the audience the ultimate viewing experience. In addition, the use of special effects adds more excitement to the movie, such as the use of fog, explosions, wounds, and battle cries. Such aspects keep the audience affixed to the movie at the same time enabling them to understand more about the conditions in a real battlefield .Moreover, there is also the use of zooming techniques to give precise images and the use of wide-angle camera shots to enable the audience to get a wider view of the battlefield during certain events. The music is done by Steve Bartkowicz; it has a very good aspect in that the music throughout the movie is captivating. While the soldiers are preparing for war, drums are heard in the background, which is an aspect of ’war drums’ associated with preparing for war and the use of drums is used in a real military setting during marching of soldiers. It draws anxiety in the audience, to make them want to know more about the next scenes. The events in this film are chronological but there are twists to give the movie the appeal brought about by suspense and intrigue, such as the flashbacks to remind the audience of the human aspect of a soldier.
The sounds in the movie are of very high quality, which is shown in the entire film. The sound of military planes in the bases and in the air gave the movie a real life aspect. The sound of soldiers in agony, bombs, and guns draws in the audience to show that the quality of the sound is great because it is likened to a real battlefield. Such sounds help the audience the real aspects of real battlefield and what soldiers experience in the battlefield such as death and pain. The movie also uses some very interesting and breathtaking narrative elements, such as the excellent tropical weather, which is however stained by the soldiers’ blood. In addition, the quiet and serene tropical atmosphere is overridden by the presence of sounds from heavy artillery and sounds of soldiers in anguish. Furthermore, the sights in the movie are also fascinating such that the presence of lightning and lack of adequate light at night, as shown by the shadows of the soldiers at night, which prompts the soldiers to use artillery in order to expose the enemy’s positions, helps the audience understand the challenges that soldiers go through in the battlefield. For example in the battlefield, the soldiers could smell Vietnamese troops’ and cannot see them; the audience cannot see them also. The troops are witty enough and are able to use a mortar, which explodes, and illuminates the whole field thus exposing the positions of the soldiers in the battlefield. Low key-lighting is a very dominant aspect in this film. Such kind of lighting is based on high-contrast lighting dominated by deep shadows with a few bright highlights. This type of lighting is used to show that the soldiers experience very tough and dark times in the battlefield due to the death and pain (Internet Movie Database, 2002).
The plot of the movie centers on a group of soldiers whose main aim is to eradicate the Vietnamese army. Colonel Moore has very firm beliefs that death should be for a noble cause. However, he feels very discontented because he does not die, yet his soldiers are dying, especially young men who have not had the chance to serve the country for long periods and experience real life in full. The soldiers are very relentless in their efforts to defeat the enemy and show a lot of courage however, their faces show fear. The movie reminds me of my deployment in Iraq, however the situation in Iraq was not as tense and aggressive as in Vietnam as illustrated I the movie. The fear in war is very real, in Iraq traveling on the roads had the ability to cause enough anxiety to make an individuals drip with sweat in fear of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by the Taliban by the roadside. It was a tense experience, as we had to live a very tense life because of the thought of being ambushed by the Taliban.
The Vietnamese were just trying to defend themselves and the integrity of their country and so they are not bad as portrayed in the film. The location of the movie was a very important aspect in that the troops were not in their native country, yet they managed to overcome the challenges of fighting in a foreign territory, which they were not conversant with the territory. This shows that it is possible to overcome adversity irrespective of the circumstances. However, due to the challenges posed to a soldier in the battlefield a soldier has to struggle with the thought of facing death at the same time struggle with thoughts of leaving family and loved ones alike. Therefore, it becomes more of an internal fight for self-stability. In some cases in the battlefield, some soldiers suffer from mental breakdown because of what they see in the battlefield: dead people, near death experiences, having to kill others, coupled with the thought of leaving family, friends and the life one has behind becomes the major causes of such mental instabilities. For instance in the movie Colonel Moore was faced by his own problems, he had to deal with the thought of his soldiers dying; he also had to deal with the thought of the enemy regaining their territory. However, his thoughts about his family made him become more aggressive at the thought that if the enemy won the fight he would not be able to go back home (Internet Movie Database, 2002).
In the film the photographer, Joe Galloway is excellent in executing his role. With no experience about war he ahs to endure the sights of people killing each other, the sight of dead people that is horrifying. Joe was different in that he did not see the need for using weapons to solve disputes, which could have been done so amicably, and for this reason, the soldiers mock him repeatedly. However, at one point in the movie, when the United States camp is being ambushed he is forced to take a rifle and protect himself and in the process of doing so he manages to save some lives. Such a show of bravado in any movie captivates the audience and sends a message that even those in society who are considered as unable to accomplish some task are capable of doing so, or even better only with the right determination. He manages to keep the hopes of the American forces winning the war alive. From an honest point of view I believe the movie was a little overacted and irrational because of the intensity of the warfare such that people were openly being shot at and not getting hurt. This according to my experiences in warfare, I found to be unbelievable. It is unbelievable that trained military personnel could not take cover to protect themselves from the imminent enemy fire. The movie had a huge impact on the American society in general and the rest of the world. In the conclusion of the film, the Vietnamese military and generals developed several plans and grouped majority of the forces. They almost overran the U.S forces; however, the troops used heavy artillery, air support systems to control the situation. Short after the U.S government retrieved the forces from the Vietnamese grounds (Internet Movie Database, 2002)
The movie portrayed America as superior in warfare and military might and thus the audience in the United States was able to understand the main effects for war. In a family that has a member serving in the military they were able to understand the reason as why such people after returning from war have mental issues and social isolation. Thus, this enables a family to give more in terms of moral support and compassion to the members serving in the military. The movie was able to show the results of bravery and patriotism, this is a factor for attracting people who want to serve their countries the military. The characters in the film experience some flash backs about their families such that the audience can be reminded that these soldiers are human regardless if their acts of shooting at the enemy and being shot at. Most of the characters face both internal and external conflict. The external conflict is from the flying bullets, explosions, and continues threats against their life. This film’s social impact was profound and informative, this film means a lot to me because I am in the military and my grandfather participated in this war. Watching the film made me realize how hard it was to fight in a war in such an era and enabled me to liken myself to the characters in the film and the challenges they faced. This film is a real life image of what is happened in the Vietnam.
An example of symbolism is when the Colonel Moore goes to church and puts forth his fears to God and when he takes to bed, his kids fearing it could be the last night that he puts his children to bed. Moreover, symbolism is used when he performs a prayer with one of his brothers in arms. The film depicts heroism of the United States soldiers. This is illustrated by the fact that the United States had the ability to fight very well in a foreign land where they were not aware of the topography of Vietnam, but they managed to settle easily. The soldiers in the movie are also witty enough to smell and spot the enemy by lighting up a mortar, which illuminates the whole forest enabling them to kill the Vietnamese. The main character, Colonel Moore is a man with a lot of courage and fights selflessly to save the dignity of his country. All the soldiers are also considered heroes because they did not relent in their efforts to fight.
Brutality also comes into play as a major theme in the movie. It is shown at the beginning of the movie by media reports showing how the French legionnaire unit is ambushed and massacred by the Vietnamese troops (Internet Movie Database, 2002). The soldiers from both sides suffer from significant number of deaths due to their zeal in accomplishing their missions, to eliminate each other. The troops do not give up the fighting even after the numerous casualties on both sides of the armies. This is illustrated by the media reports showing Vietnamese widows who have been grieving for endless nights holding their young children hoping that the war would end. The Americans are very brutal because even after numerous deaths of their soldiers they do not relent on their war efforts disregarding the anguish they are causing their families. It is illustrated by the western union taxi, which arrives in Mrs. Moore’s community to deliver letters to inform the wives of the soldiers of their losses.
In addition, bravery is also depicted in the film by the fact that Colonel Moore is presented as a leader of a large number of troops. At the beginning of the movie colonel Moore states that he will be the first to set foot on the Vietnamese soil and the last to leave and he does exactly that. The statement shows that he is very determined to fight to till the end is also a show of bravado because he seems to fear nothing. This film falls in a subgenre of violence and drama. It fits in violence because of the constant fights between the two countries and the price of war. The drama because, of the detailed explanation of the personal conflicts. The film used a formalist and realist approach in that the form of the film was .This film is a fantastic movie about the men who gave their lives for us and the enemy who died defending their country. It is gives the American audience pride because of the bravado with which the American soldiers fought the enemy.
. The soldiers showed very desirable character traits in that they were very aggressive and responded with swiftness to the nations call to go to war. Moreover, they fought with all their might, which was a show of courage and patriotism. The call for the war was to free Vietnam from the communist oppression of the Northern Vietnam and a potential threat to the stability of United States and the world in general.
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