Thursday, August 25, 2005

Winter Soldier (1972)

This rare film documents a hearing put on by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. What it is, basically, is a bunch of young men on a stage relating the war atrocities they witnessed (and, in some cases, committed). For a film comprised of nothing but words, it carries with it a brutal impact, as the insanity of war becomes concrete. What's noteworthy, too, is how the participants sidestep the usual rationalizations for barbaric wartime behavior. The "just following orders" explanation does show up, but unlike, say, the guards in S21, the soldiers in this film also readily acknowledge their own culpability and guilt over their actions. They may have been following orders, but in many cases they were all too happy to carry those orders out. The film suffers from some thematic repetition (after a while, some of the subjects' testimonies start to bleed together), and the editing could be tighter. The film's full force, though, still hits home -- especially in today's political climate.

Grade: B


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