In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_circle_ver2

The Circle

A high tech thriller with plenty of tech and not enough thrills.

Thumb_rodney-king-poster-2017

Rodney King

This record of Roger Gueneveur Smith's one-man show is a film of provocations.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

The Anderson Platoon

  |  

By coincidence, I saw Eugene Jones' "A Face of War" at a screening the day before I went to review "The Anderson Platoon."

Both films use cinema verite to examine the rifleman in Vietnam, but the Jones film is incomparably more true and compelling than "The Anderson Platoon" (which won this year's Academy Award).

"American Platoon" was photographed for French television by Pierre Schoendorffer, a war correspondent who was with the French at Dien Bien Phu. It follows a platoon through several weeks of jungle warfare, and there are interludes as platoon members go on leave in Saigon, moments of humor and grisly moments of horror. The entire film is narrated.

Advertisement

By contrast, Jones used only available sound in "A Face of War." There isn't a word of narration in it. The sound is a jumble of radio broadcasts, orders, calls for help, obscenities, wisecracking, briefings, and cries of pain. Strangely enough, it is much easier to follow the action this way than when Schoendorffer's narrator tries to explain things.

"Anderson Platoon" has cute effects (while GIs march through the mud, Nancy Sinatra sings "Boots Are Made for Walking"), "A Face of War" none. It does, however, show soldiers assisting at a battlefield birth and acting in the traditional manner ("Ain't he a tough little bastard? Hey, snookums, what you cryin' about? Upsy-daisy"). It is a deeply moving scene.

Also moving are the faces of the soldiers as they give frantic first aid to men caught by a booby trap; their faces late at night as they stand watch; their strained faces as they peer into the jungle for the enemy.

Neither film takes a position for or against the war. Schoendorffer and Jones let the events speak for themselves. But the French film is about Vietnam, a specific war. And the Jones film, which I hope finds a booking here, is not about Vietnam at all, but about the rifleman wherever he may be assigned: lonely, weary, proud, bitter and scared.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

“American Gods” Wants to be Your New TV Religion

A review of Starz's "American Gods," a show like nothing you have ever seen before.

Francis Ford Coppola's "Rumble Fish" Reigns on Criterion Blu-ray

One of the most important and dazzlingly original works by Coppola comes to Criterion Blu-ray.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus