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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_ylxcdc106ikiarfthkcacasaacb

La La Land

This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other.

Thumb_jackie

Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

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
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel 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."

Advertisement

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.

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.

Advertisement

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...

Why Critics Should See Bad Movies

A piece on the experience gained from seeing bad movies.

Siskel and Ebert Defend Star Wars

A clip of Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert defending Star Wars on ABC.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus