Article written on January 10, 2015, and then complemented by the cinematographic works published on the subject since;
We include in the scope of this analysis a few films in our capital, with no intention of completeness.
This year 2015, come out to the cinema two films at a pitch similar : American Sniper, Clint Eastwood and Good Kill, Andrew Niccol. Two works dealing with the evil-being inherent in the soldier’s return of conflict – the veteran.
Two films that are part of a process of observation and understanding of the ravages of contemporary armed conflict led by the united States following the SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 ;
in Iraq, then in Afghanistan against terrorism, but also for other interests that are more diffuse.
Return, therefore, to 2001, to examine in a few steps, this process of introspection.
– The feeling patriotic; Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott
– The processing of the event
– A track more Pragmatic
– The human point of view
– In the margin: The Office of the Legends
The patriotic feelings – the importance of Black Hawk Down
Chance of schedule, came out three months after the destruction of the two towers, Black Hawk Down.
The film in which America needed to feel good to the ego… An ego bruised by the murder of thousands of innocent people – just as the discovery of relatively sudden hatred without a face dedicated to american values.
Black Hawk Down does in spite of himself, an amalgam between the war conducted against islamist terrorism, and the conflict independent in which the u.s. army participated in the 1993 – a conflict the complexity of which is impossible to summarize in a few lines (and even less addressed in the film) ; we will refer you to the wiki page dedicated to the conflict, to try to understand it better.
The film is the story of a military intervention having failed, in spite of the courage and determination of a few men. A film is very important, for the message of both ambiguous and clear, that he gave to a people in need of answers.
Clear, in his way of invoking the need of commitment to a cause greater than himself : the defense of american values.
Ambiguous in its representation of the enemy, which is applicable to any movement religious or political, by its nature dehumanized.
Because the enemy, in Black Hawk Down is without a face. It is that movement, and hatred. And he is killed by hundreds, by a few brave Marines. A feeling of power is transferred on these few super-soldiers, despite their tragic end. This super-soldier, it’s all-the-world and person at the time : the rookie with no personality, the hothead, the fearful ; the experienced soldier to one who is “moved by the atrocity of this war”… The gallery of characters – very ultimate -allows each of us to identify with the heroism, regardless of his past, his origins, his state of mind.
The work of Ridley Scott places himself as the object of propaganda for the justification of a conflict – still relevant as evidenced by the recent “A day in the life of Billy Lynn, which we will discuss in the end of the article.
Cinematically, Black Hawk Down is a kind of artistic perfection that no work except perhaps that of Michael Bay, he never managed to reproduce.
It begat, however, a descent relationship which transcended its original material by interactivity : the series of video games Call Of Duty (Modern Warfare and suites). Video games taking up with an unwavering confidence with the concepts proposed by Black Hawk Down : Set in spectacular scene, replacing any realism to the valuation of the super-soldier ; blur intentionally kept on the geopolitical features, dehumanization of the opponent, points of view, human and/or psychology ever developed.
The two works, although dealing with different events, have contributed tremendously to the imagery of this conflict, post 11/09 in the collective unconscious.
The processing of the event
Observe frontally the cause of the trauma is clearly one of the cornerstones of the whole process cathartic.
The three films, at this level, stand out with more or less subtlety…
World Trade Center, ’Oliver Stone found himself at the heart of the disaster but paid in a sentimentality too pressed to be sincere.
Flight 93, Paul Greengrass, placed the viewer inside of one of the hijacked planes… But had the intelligence to keep a human point of view, realistic and devoid of all mawkishness or amalgam.
The most successful, according to us, remains the War Of The Worlds by Steven Spielberg. The evocative power of his film is, without a doubt. He managed to treat a number of impressive aspect, is used exclusively of the metaphor of alien invasion. Like Paul Greengrass, from a distance, a perspective that is intimate and non-judgmental. A masterpiece unjustly devalued – we’ll get to that.
A track more pragmatic
Other tracks were often discussed, such as the inevitable conspiracy theory of government. Random (bis) calendar, came out in 2002, the film that nobody wanted to hear him speak : The Sum of All Our Fears. Or how the super-agent of the C. I. A. ‘s Jack Ryan managed to defuse a terrorist attack. A film with the resonance too recent to be of interest to anyone… such a Shame, because the effectiveness of the story (Tom Clancy), he is a reference in terms of spy movies.
In a different genre, Michael Moore touched upon the topic of the conspiracy to economic motivation, but a little too factual, accusatory and easy, in his aggressive indictment of anti-bush, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004).
Indirectly, the Andrew Niccol ‘s Good Kill, which dealt with the same subject in his film the most convincing to this day, Lord Of War (2005), the organization of an international conflict in order to promote the traffic of weapons.
The Kingdom (Peter Berg, 2007) introduced as to him, a police investigation in a context of terrorism drivé by the diplomatic relations.
=It is possible to place, in 2007, the Munich Steven Spielberg as the axis-symmetric two visions pragmatic 11/09:
on the one hand, the analysis of an event, its consequences at the international level… And on the other, the tracks of the – of the guilty. The film of Spielberg addressed the two themes so timeless, taking for base another “attack”, one of the games of Munich in 1972. It was also with a certain wisdom (neutrality or lack of commitment some might say), whistleblower of the futility of responding to violence with violence – while referring to the elbow-to-elbow the absurdity of the conflict occidentalo-leste, and sriaelo-palestinian.
Along this axis, the tracking becomes the most recurring subject of the film, that this is the truth, as in the Green Zone by Paul Greengrass (combining its mounting ultra-dynamic to a questioning and intelligent on the reasons of the conflict iraqo-american – the famous weapons of destruction-mass), for a result that is very cold, but the immersion undeniable
Bin Laden himself, and secondarily that of answers and justifications for the atrocities committed by each side, in Zero Dark Thirty by Kathryn Bigelow (2012),
Or terrorism as a whole, but especially of the fundamental reasons for a movement of such magnitude, in the excellent A Man much Sought after, d’Anton Corbijn (released in 2014)
In parallel, we will mention the influence of September 11, in a more fanciful but just as much political and effective. The weapons of mass destruction will be the subject of a running gag from the brilliant series ‘s arrested Development, which distn. throughout his first two seasons, a point of view subtle on this war post 11/09.
We will add also the forgettable, because a little too catch-all yay, V for Vendetta (2006) and the very friendly but also Marvel-esque Iron Man by Jon Favreau (2008)
The angle of the drift in the name of the country (the torture) is also treated in the Road to Guantanamo by Michael Winterbottom, that we have unfortunately not seen, and recently, in The Guard, with Kristen Stewart.
Updates: CitizenFour, Laura Poitras (2015), and The Office of the Legends of Eric Rochant (2015)
A new angle on the horizon, thanks to the documentary CitizenFour: the awareness of the manipulation, and reaction.
We are all aware since mid-2013: the NSA has built a surveillance system pernicious, considering the private data of any person, american or not, connected. The documentary thus shows two things:
Very educational, and evidence in support, that the regime of fear post 11/09 led to a drift extreme on the part of the american state, in the name of security of the country.
On the other side, Edward Snowden, working indirectly for the NSA, has had access to records that are more confidential, and made a decision amazing: make them public, and to denounce what is happening right-very totalitarian, very “Big Brother”.
This decision is very pragmatic to put the interests of the american people ahead of his own is very set forward by the documentary. Sincere or not (you can always ask if the documentary film is not only a mise-en-scene of the real), we take the party to believe, and to assimilate this altruism hardcore to a personification of the american consciousness.
Edward Snowden represents, and for us, a ras-le-bol of the manipulation and control inherent in the idea of a quest for justice and truth, absolute and indisputable.
A particularly interesting takes on form in the film of Laura Poitras, CitizenFour
Full review, HERE
It then comes out of the straightjacket of the american cinema to look at the fabulous French series THE OFFICE OF LEGENDS (critical, HERE).
In the latter, it is espionage. Not a spy who could save the world James Bond, but a collection of intelligence and information, allowing a better understanding of the global political environment, and particularly the relation to modern terrorism.
The series, smartly, focuses on the dissection depth and through the situations generated by a few key characters (including Lout alias William Debailly, interpreted by the great Matthieu Kassovitz), the political relations between some countries : France, Algeria, united States, Syria and Iran. Even more interesting, she speculates (???) on the internal workings of these countries as regards the management of information, and by extension the role of each (on a global scale, professional, personal or even intimate), on the international stage.
Little by little began to take shape in the heart of the series, treat of terrorism is palpable that he must not underestimate, because it was well understood, and control just as much as the spies that we follow, the power of information and communication. THE OFFICE OF the CAPTIONS is extremely palpable and resonating with the news, pointing the terrorism finger and without detour (the Islamic State, for example, is called as such, and the same for its abuses).
THE OFFICE OF the LEGENDS can be seen as a long version of’A Man very sought-after, who can then afford to work not only his treatment of the world post-11 September, but also its characters (the actors are also in this title, all exceptional), its slow pace but never boring, and conducive to the digestion of the countless number of sub-plots; these, perfectly managed, all converge in the second season, to a resolution o how memorable and cliffangheresque.
In short, a masterpiece of modern to store on the side of – in another register, The Wire.
The human point of view
One aspect of the overall treaty in all the films mentioned above… The singularity of the films sub-cities comes from their decision to decline compared to the 11 September. They all place their characters at the heart of a reflection on the scope of this event. They give them all more or less aware of their status of victim’s collateral.
The first traumatized, it is obviously the new yorker.
Spike Lee asks, for example, in his magnificent 25 th Hour (2002), on the disappearance of innocence. A very deep based, among other things, on the constant desire of the property (that one could return until the conquest of the New World). An evil long overshadowed by the hypocrisy of american values, such as the sacro-saint American Dream, but yet freshly restored and updated by the explosion of the twin towers.
And if The united states were responsible for their own downfall, by echo of their behaviour vis-à-vis other cultures ?
We talk also of the War of the Worlds, and his point of view or intimate the hero is not a hero but a survivor, with what it implies for bassesses, of cowardice and instinct… A survivor, who has no other interest (and not immediately) as for the family…
One also thinks of Margaret (dating back to 2007 but distributed in 2011) The film of Kenneth Lornegan ran in 2: 30 (or 3: 30 depending on the versions), a fortuitous accident, the influence of September 11 on the lives of New Yorkers, inter-générationnellement, inter-culturally. The link was provided with intelligence, through the prism of the vision little awakened from a post-teen totally clueless. Anna Paquin in this role is great (yes, Sookie of True Blood, awesome).
Victim more collateral but equally traumatized : the soldier.
Jarhead (2005) was the first to immerse the viewer in the point of view of the soldier. All, in Jarhead, reflected the lack of personality defined this conflict – and hence, its absurdity : The fact that, temporally, during the Gulf war underlines the interchangeability of the conflict. Its title “empty heads” refers to that of the soldier, that one is filled with ideas pre-designed rather than reflection on the nature of this war…. The use of references in the film (and the scene) is precisely indicative of the desire to isolate the conflict by his public image rather than by its concrete definition.
Everything is so deliberately shot. Situations (training in Full Metal Jacket) to the soldiers ironically made to drink ofApocalypse Now… But this is not enough and leads, in the film, to the explosion.
Jarhead can be seen as the antithesis of metaphysical Black Hawk Down ; a reflection intelligently into the abyss by its lack of reflection.
The intimate and the psychology ambiguous are also at the heart of the Deminers of Kathryn Bigelow (2008).
Is a visible character at first as the super-hero typical american (Jeremy Renner – the future Avenger – perfect)
Hot head, brave, selfless… bomb disposal experts reveals without ever to simplify complex, troubling. Altruism is gradually making room for the fear of loneliness, of incomprehension and of rejection. The courage, is it not, in fact, the feeling selfish for wanting at all costs to prove its value ? The audacity, she, mask some depression in the face of the triviality of human life. Sapper resounds in the end, as a manifest of the state of american values.
We will add that this masterpiece of ambivalence is reinforced by the mise-en-scene is impeccable, creating an outstanding and continuous marking.
By extension, the veteran.
It is an angle to be particularly interesting, since it allows to address several aspects of the conflict, simultaneously.
The combat, the violence inherent, its effect on the psychology of the common-man american. The trauma are unavoidable, the rehabilitation of everyday life… Impossible ;
A more global view point, commitment, vision immersive of the conflict perspective on war, psychology, analysis… These films, taking as their central character, a veteran can see himself as a sum of several years of introspection film.
Vietnam, or the modern conflicts (Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan)… Here, the location of the war, has only a relative importance in relation to its impact on the average american, and by extension, public opinion.
This assumption was “exploited” in every war, but the Vietnam conflict and the latter are those who have the most impact on public opinion, by their inefficiency deadly. From Deer Hunter (the proof is reversed) Forrest Gump (film-exhaustive of the evils of America pointed out with a certain naivety) through Memories of our Fathers by Clint Eastwood, or the semi-successful Brothers by Jim Sheridan (after Suzanne Bier)…
Up to the films that we are interested in: American Sniper and Good Kill, where it is easy to imagine the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Bradley Cooper in young men vingtenaires, impressed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, by a few speeches and images are highly spectacular about the commitment to the defense of american values. Suggestible to the point of becoming soldiers invested, body and soul, and then realize that the conflict is actually very far from the ideal they were built. These same soldiers that we find ourselves in 2015, indélébilement traumatized and transformed by a violence that is psychological monster, a war in which they are just beginning to seek the meaning given the absence of results or impact of the american intervention.
The peculiarity of these two films is to place the protagonists at a sufficient distance from the “enemy” not to be, in theory, be “splashed” by the violence of their acts – making them more lethal. A distance that promotes a certain identification; the viewer, to the image of these avatars film of the average american, remains at a distance while participating.
American Sniper and Good Kill opportunity to explore immémorielles questions about the war:
How to adapt to the fact of taking the lives of others ? What are the values for which we fight ? How is reviving t-one relationships based on the trust of friendship or love, after having witnessed the death of others – whether from the enemy or his comrades ? How to justify this barbarism ?
Then, more specific to this conflict-Iraq/Afghanistan… Its duration, its reasons, its results, its means…: what is their meaning ?
The film of Clint Eastwood is doing certainly the best on this field of the identification, as attested to by its phenomenal success (342M$ of revenue on the ground U. S.); the counter-party, is that it can easily be equated to patriotism, pure and hard. The subtlety of the film is located here: reflect as well the american consciousness post 11/09, is a form of information or propaganda ? Each of us must, at this level, to make his own opinion.
CRITICISM of AMERICAN SNIPER : HERE
As for Good Kill, Andrew Niccol – accustomed to controversial subjects and/or complex processed without depth in -, was unfortunately not able to reveal all of the potential inherent in this assumption.
His film resonates in spite of everything cas a logical extension of the long-introspection conducted by the american film on the recent history of his own country.
CRITICAL GOOD KILL : HERE
Update: A day in the life of Billy Lynn, Ang Lee (2017)
The history – Iraq, 2005: Billy Lynn is 19 years old, performs an act of bravery during a violent attack been a victim of his squad, to come to the rescue of a wounded soldier. Partially filmed and rebroadcast around the world, this action turned in spite of himself the young man into a national hero – a hero that will be highlighted during one of the shows in the most publicized of the United States, the show is a half-time of the Superbowl.
The film we attach to the eyes of Billy Lynn on these two events and their contours: the attack, and the famous ” halftime “.
The director, the sino-taiwanese Ang Lee is accustomed to portraits remote (but extremely sensitive) of an America beset by doubts as to the handing-over in question of his identity. Paintings drawn through the study of a few iconic characters, a time and its themes. It continues to build on the success of Ride with the Devil , or the Secret of Brokeback Mountain by showing us here, with more or less subtlety, how the story – the drama – Billy Lynn is openly stripped of all its ramifications intimate in favor of the image of a specific act, in order to serve as a tool of propaganda for the commitment to the conflict, and, more generally, to glorify the America of the possible; This America where an individual lambda can become in a moment the hero of his country, and how this country there is, finally, only by and for his heroes and what they communicate as the image, the rest of the world.
Although swimming with a certain complacency in the imaging vulgar “show in the u.s.” – imaging coherent by his side whistleblower, but all the same, and so is open to criticism -the film of Ang Lee peak with cynicism the excesses of an industry built by and for a people, and his addiction to the grand spectacle as a means of information, of culture, but also to feel emotions. An observation drift on many other topics such as religion, money, love (emotional or desire), the camaraderie, the failure to adjust on a daily basis to one who has experienced war, loss of social reference points and/or intimate related to the hyper-exposure in the media.
In the context of our case, A day in the life of Billy Lynn may be likened to a kind of movie-the sum of the last points that we have treated, we are speaking of the figure of the soldier/veteran as much as the average american – its values, its perception of the conflict, presenting us with an America post-September 11 with distance and pragmatism.
Beyond that, the film is also a study through the prism of the sensitivity of these interactions that construct (and deconstruct) the personality and identity of a Man.
I imagine that the purpose of this folder appropriate is to draw a parallel with the events of January 2015 – the attack carried out against Charlie Hebdo:
Encourage them to look at the image of the american cinema, a solution, an explanation, in hindsight and analysis.
Encourage them to not give in to the emotion, the hatred, and the expression of instincts, but inappropriate.
It is, of course, a process cathartic long and hard to consider, in the emotion of the moment.
A process that seems to us necessary, in the idea to avoid these numerous mistakes that were committed in the name of simple retribution.