Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Messenger & Contemporary War Films

Have you had a chance to see a preview for the film The Messenger. The film tells the story of the people who deliver the news to the next in kin about the death of their family members in war.

The film stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson as the messengers delivering this news, as well as staring Samantha Morton & Jena Malone.

I haven't seen this movie yet, but it peaks my curiosity. To think of having a job where you deliver families the worst news imaginable. To do with dignity and control and detachment.

In the film, Ben Foster disregards some of these expectations for detatchment, and certainly seems to present a unique humanity in this role.

I'm interested in this story because one of the things that has been on my mind a lot recently is the military. I think it's been on my mind because it doesn't seem like it's on many other people's minds.

When I hear stories about the War in Iraq, or hearings about Tony Blair's decisions to go to war with Iraq and join US forces, or about Barack Obama's plans for Afghanistan, I have recently been thinking of the soldiers.

In recent months, I have been exploring some ideas about peace and reflecting on Veterans Day and the sacrifice and strain on families that is exhibited as we have a war going on 9 years has been on my mind.

So, I appreciate when media attempts to capture these stories.

The box office grosses for contemporary films about the middle east and war have been relatively dismal, even this years critically acclaimed film The Hurt Locker's widest release was 535 theaters and do date only has 16 million dollar world-wide gross.

Yet, I think the fact that these films keep on being made and they keep not being watched tell me something. It tells me that there are people who realize these stories are important. Whether they have a pro-war or anti-war sentiment there are a lot of people who are interested in telling these stories. They're important.

Yet, at the same time, in the same way that most people ignore the war, hardly discussing, thinking, or adjusting their behavior as a country at war, we also seem to ignore these films.

Perhaps it's a message that doesn't resonate. Perhaps it's a message we want to ignore.

I don't expect box office explosions, or even an explosion of critical awards for this film, it might be too small relative to some of the other behemoths we will see squished into the film season for the month of December, but I hope Hollywood keeps on presenting stories about soldiers in war.

The war is real. There are so many stories. We should seek out these stories rather than ignore heroism, heartache, internal struggle, dedication, honor and acts of will.

1 comment:

Danny King said...

This is one of the best-acted films of the year. The scenes in which Foster and Harrelson deliver the news are incredibly powerful and terrifying at the same time. The intensity of watching these two men deliver news not knowing what type of reaction to expect is almost overwhelmingly harrowing.

Well worth-seeing.