Three Kings in the Iraqi Desert - Movie Review and Film Essay

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Introduction

In several advanced college history courses I have the students watch a contemporary film, usually one dealing with a war or revolution or political conflict. The students will be presented with the basic historical and geographical facts pertinent to the region in lecture form. On the day of the film they receive a Study Guide to help them navigate the film and then guide their efforts as they write analytical essays. Below is the Study Guide provided to the students prior to watching Three Kings.

Plot Summary

Just after the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991, a small group of American soldiers discover a secret Iraqi map, which indicates the location of a bunker that contains Iraqi stolen gold and other treasures, taken from Kuwait. The soldiers hope to “liberate” the gold for themselves before their return to the United States.

They soon realize that the defeated Iraqi army is more focused on persecuting Iraqi civilians than in protecting Saddam’s gold from the Americans. The civilians had been encouraged by U.S. forces, essentially the U.S. government, to oppose Sadaam Hussein and his forces. With the war over and Sadaam’s forces still in place, many of them are facing imprisonment and execution because the U.S. military has orders not to defend or assist them.

Suddenly the Americans with the single mercenary goal of obtaining the gold have to confront a moral choice….do they enrich themselves and abandon the Iraqis to their certain doom? Or do they decide that saving innocent lives, even non-American lives, is paramount and takes precedence over all other goals and intentions. The film examines what people will choose to do when driven by greed, driven by a need for security, or driven by a need to ameliorate and correct injustice.

Themes Within the Film

The film addresses a number of different issues. The notion of conducting a propaganda war through the use of media; the real reason the U.S. interfered when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait; one of the the reasons Iraq was able to invade Kuwait in the first place (American arms and training received from a previous administration); the tendency of governments to serve their own interests as part of the politics of war; the tendency of governments to do almost anything to cement their power base.

Director’s Vision

David O. Russell is the director and his films frequently carry hidden "messages" under the cover of surreal detail and in references to other art works. He is impatient with and intolerant of a traditional “romantic” story-line.

What is discernible in almost all of Russell’s films is his conviction that modern America is frequently an inequitable and unjust place. Along those lines he makes references to other films, for example, Apocalypse Now, and the “colonial” buddy film, The Man Who Would Be King with Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer.

Visual Dimensions

Visually, the film is frenetic and striking. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel used a special bleaching process to wash much of the color out of his frames. The main characters, Archie, Troy, Vig, and Chief race their mis-appropriated Humvee through a starkly white desert that frequently erupts in gunfire and mine explosions.

Making fun of and taking cheap shots at other films, and filled with shattering gore–filled scenes, as well as, surprisingly tender and moving scenes, the film clearly communicates Russell's view of American history and political intentions.

All this is offered of course within the confines of an action-packed, fast paced war film, with abrupt interludes of sharp humor. It is both a strong critique of the American government's use of its power and influence and a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the individualistic American soul and character.

Major Characters

George Clooney - Major Archie Gates

Mark Wahlberg - SFC Troy Barlow

Ice Cube - Staff Sgt Chief Elgin

Spike Jonze - PFC Conrad Vig

Nora Dunn - Journalist, Adrianna Cruz

Instructions for Film Essay

Do you think the film is effective? How is it effective?

Aside from being an entertaining adventure film, what is the director saying?

What concepts, concerns, (diplomatic, political, social, cultural, religious, economic) is the film attempting to draw attention to?

Note: Start with my questions as a jumping off place and then devise specific questions of your own. Please turn in your specific questions when you turn in your 5-6 page essay.

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Comments - Three Kings in the Iraqi Desert 46 comments

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Sounds like a very interesting movie. Enjoyed reading your hub and voted up.

John


Script Mechanic profile image

Script Mechanic 4 years ago from Wherever Films Need To Be Nitpicked

I don't think I'd be able to complete the essay to that length you want given both the choice of the film and the degree to which your assessment of the film pushes the viewer to your conclusion rather than theirs.

Given the number of my relatives who served in the Gulf War, the extreme degree of unprofessionalism shown by the main characters of the film was both unrealistic and inappropriate. That's not to say that illicit dealings didn't go on in both sides of the war and that the American government conducted itself more with a mind to their own gain than to be concerned with the loss of innocent lives. I've no doubt they did. But the incompetent, frequently bumbling nature of the squad members was a comedic sideshow that didn't really advance the plot and was counterproductive in driving home the large-scale political themes in the minds of the viewers. In other words, their antics were a distraction. Furthermore, these characters did not jibe with George Clooney's character, who was extremely competent if somewhat morally derelict.

Had the film been presented in less a comedic fashion I probably would've respected it more.

As for the director's vision, I disagree with your statements. You say he is impatient with traditional romantic films, but moments of high-drama were frequent. The growing bond between Spike Jonze and Ice Cube's characters is probably the best example of this. Also, you say that the director is trying to show that modern America is frequently an unjust place. I agree entirely with the sentiment, but considering our protagonists ended up taking the moral highroad, I can only conclude that the director's convictions ultimately folded in the face of what makes a film enjoyable to the mass media. It's expected that the soldiers do what's right, even though highly unrealistic. So, to be frank, I believe both the director and screenwriter sacrificed their "vision" as you call it for the sake of marketability.

This is an interesting mental exercise. I've highly enjoyed it, but if this is meant to be part of a class, I respectfully put forth that the conclusions to which you come about this film in the instructions you give them may prevent students from fully understanding the film and gravitating to their own personal interpretations of it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you John. It is a wild, colorful, rather extreme film, not your typical "combat" film, but it makes some good points.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Script - Thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful comments. I will write an appropriate response tomorrow, but I have been on the computer (writing lectures for my history class and Hubbing) for over five hours and I am brain dead and cannot manage a proper response right now.

For right now let me mention a couple of things: First, I know Three Kings is over the top, not at all a traditional war film and I show it at the very end of a 15 week upper level college history course after they have seen 5 or 6 other films.

We will also have read three books and discussed propaganda, bias, viewpoint, Hollywood film-making, documentaries, etc. We also discuss various political, literary, and philosophic issues relevant to the episode in history as well as its representation in book and film.

What the Hub did not state, but I state frequently in class is that students are welcome to disagree with me, to questions the film's framework and suppositions or my study guide framework and suppositions; they are encouraged to think critically, to question, to build and defend alternative explanations of the film.

Second, if you have time look at my Hub on "We Were Soldiers" for a different film, approach, and study guide. See what you think. You might have some useful comments to make about my research Hubs on World War II and the holocaust, if you care to check them out.

Crashing now. Thanks.


Script Mechanic profile image

Script Mechanic 4 years ago from Wherever Films Need To Be Nitpicked

I'm very happy to hear that you encourage such free thought among your students. It's always uplifting to come across an educator who tries to see things from as many perspectives as possible and even goes so far as to acknowledge that.

It would be my pleasure to look at your other hubs. Since my great-uncle was actually a member of the 7th Cavalry Regiment and survived the Battle of La Drang, I do have some familiarity with that film and its basis in reality.

Maybe when you're refreshed you could take the time to give me your thoughts on a few of my own hubs? I'm trying to focus on film reviews and what could be done from a screenwriter's perspective to better the quality and entertainment value of various films. Since I've only just started this account today, I've only got two of them up at the moment. I'm hoping to change that soon.

Just out of curiosity's sake, what is it you hope to teach your students by having them view films concerning the topic of study? I'm asking so I'll have a little better idea of what sort of feedback you're looking for with your other hubs.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Script - ,

---Because your comments are long and detailed (I like thoughtful, long, and detailed comments, I'm not complaining, just observing) I think I will insert my responses inside your text. Otherwise it gets too confusing for me and I lose my place in my train of thought. Thanks again for the time you took to read and respond to the Hub.

SM: I don't think I'd be able to complete the essay to that length you want given both the choice of the film and the degree to which your assessment of the film pushes the viewer to your conclusion rather than theirs.

--- I forgot to mention that the pages are double-spaced so it's really not as much writing as it seems. Also, this is the last essay right at the end of the course and they have already had a lot of practice with this kind of essay and have gotten better at it.

SM: Given the number of my relatives who served in the Gulf War, the extreme degree of unprofessionalism shown by the main characters of the film was both unrealistic and inappropriate. That's not to say that illicit dealings didn't go on in both sides of the war and that the American government conducted itself more with a mind to their own gain than to be concerned with the loss of innocent lives. I've no doubt they did.

--- I completely agree with you that the film was unrealistic, but I think that was his intention. It was a farce, it was over the top, it was entertainment first and some information second. I can't imagine that the director Russell actually expected people to view this film as they would a more traditional historically-based serious film. And of course I had those kinds of discussions with my students before they watch this film.

SM: But the incompetent, frequently bumbling nature of the squad members was a comedic sideshow that didn't really advance the plot and was counterproductive in driving home the large-scale political themes in the minds of the viewers. In other words, their antics were a distraction. Furthermore, these characters did not jibe with George Clooney's character, who was extremely competent if somewhat morally derelict.

--- It was a comedic sideshow and it is not a film that suits everyone by any means, but for my purposes and what I hope to accomplish in the classroom it wasn't counterproductive. I work with the students to help them isolate and focus on the large-scale political themes.

Had the film been presented in less a comedic fashion I probably would've respected it more.

--- I understand, but that it would've been entirely different film and would've reached a different audience. I use more serious direct films all the time, but I also find it useful to occasionally throw something like the Three Kings into the mix.

SM: As for the director's vision, I disagree with your statements. You say he is impatient with traditional romantic films, but moments of high-drama were frequent. The growing bond between Spike Jonze and Ice Cube's characters is probably the best example of this.

--- I should probably mention here that I am not a film studies person, I'm not a film critic, I know nothing about script writing... what I know is history. I also know how to motivate students to think critically and to express themselves effectively, both orally and in writing.

---Having said that, I think it is possible that we are using some of the same terms to mean different things. My background is history and English literature; I'm not sure we mean the same thing when we say "traditional romantic film."

SM: Also, you say that the director is trying to show that modern America is frequently an unjust place. I agree entirely with the sentiment, but considering our protagonists ended up taking the moral highroad, I can only conclude that the director's convictions ultimately folded in the face of what makes a film enjoyable to the mass media. It's expected that the soldiers do what's right, even though highly unrealistic. So, to be frank, I believe both the director and screenwriter sacrificed their "vision" as you call it for the sake of marketability.

--- I don't doubt at all that the director and the screenwriter sacrificed their vision for the sake of marketability. Of course they did. Honestly, what else should we really expect from a glossy, expensive Hollywood film full of major stars.

--- I want my students to be able to critically examine and analyze films of many kinds including Hollywood films including those that are internally inconsistent, sometimes even including those that make very little attempt to tell an accurate story.

--- I can provide them with the facts, I can suggest that they read a really good book, but additionally, I want them to become lifelong critical thinkers and careful observers. And for me one of the ways I accomplish that goal is by exposing them to a great variety of concepts, articles, books, films, and arguments.

SM: This is an interesting mental exercise. I've highly enjoyed it, but if this is meant to be part of a class, I respectfully put forth that the conclusions to which you come about this film in the instructions you give them may prevent students from fully understanding the film and gravitating to their own personal interpretations of it.

---I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate the time you spent responding to it thoughtfully. I do think you and I approach films from very different directions and that's to be expected-- you don't teach history, I do nothing about screenwriting or script writing.

---We may just have to agree to disagree. You may still think Three Kings is an abominable film. I find it useful for motivating students to think outside the box and practice their analytical thinking and writing skills. Perhaps using Three Kings only makes sense in the larger context of everything I try to do in the classroom. I enjoyed this conversation and I will respond to your second comment shortly.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi SD - Thanks for your comments. The world really is a small place. Your uncle was with the 7th Cavalry…my father was career Air Force, so I grew up on a variety of Air Force bases. I definitely will be interested in your thoughts about the film as well as the way I use it in class.

I will also look at your Hubs, but remember this is not my field at all. You are the expert. So my comments would be very general. Is the Hub well-written? Did I understand the concepts used? That sort of thing?

Try to develop a rhythm in posting your Hubs. If you post too many too close together you tend to lose readers, because we are all overwhelmed.

or example, regardless of how many wonderful Hubs a person might post in a week, I am only going to read one per person. I only have time to read and comment on one per person, per week – that alone is commenting on over 100 Hubs a week.

Some people just read and never comment. They are immature and selfish Hubbers who follow just to get you to follow them and boost their numbers, but they have no understanding of “real community” or the concept of “reciprocity.”

I follow lots of hew Hubbers and try to help them get established, especially if they are serious writers and not just interested in HP because they think it is a get rich quick scheme. If after a couple of weeks I realize all they do is post, but they never reciprocate, I “unfollow” them and invest my time with the serious writers and community builders.

You asked, "Just out of curiosity's sake, what is it you hope to teach your students by having them view films concerning the topic of study?"

Good question. :) My answer applies to everything the students and I do in a course throughout the semester: books, articles, lectures, group discussions, student presentations, outside lectures, art exhibits, and FILMS. Of course we don't use every single one of these approaches in every class, but I try to teach using a variety of approaches and techniques.

So, in everything I do in the classroom, what do I hope to "teach my students?" My four primary objectives are to improve their ability to read carefully, to think critically and analytically, to write logically and persuasively, to speak clearly and confidently.

Eighteen years ago when I first entered the classroom I thought my job was to teach a specific subject, history, in a specific place and time. But I learned that I could actually teach all sorts of subject matter and that the subject is the vehicle or process through which I can accomplish those other four goals.

They are by far the most important. I have students who are business majors and they don't like history and will never take another history course. So, yes, I would like them To "know" the causes of WW I. But more than that, I want them to be better thinkers and speakers for the rest of their lives.

I have ancillary or secondary objectives for students of course: expand geographical, political cultural, intellectual understanding; enlarge working vocabulary; broaden interests; develop tolerance and understanding of other cultures and religions - I didn't say accept, I said understand); encourage commitment to contributing to society; developing disciplinary and general competence which leads to self-confidence and self-actualization.

I don't write these goals into my syllabus, we seldom discuss them in class unless the students bring these issues up, and sometimes they do. But all these things are accomplished incidentally as I focus on my four main objectives - reading, thinking, writing, speaking.

As students become more and more competent in these areas and in the course subject matter, the other secondary goals will likely be accomplished as well. Do I think all teacher's think this way? No. Do I think the world would be a better place if all teachers did? Yes, I do.

Is this attitude the height of arrogance? I don't think so. I think we all teach and mentor the people around us all the time whether we call it that or not (and they teach and mentor us--its called relationships, its called community).

I had teachers who knew their subjects well and I learned from them. But I also had transformative teachers who taught me more than the subject, who in some small way changed How I thought and improved the trajectory of my life. I am grateful for them and I model my teaching after theirs.

Long answer, hunh? Guess you will think twice about asking another question. :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

I always find your hubs and the comments here different and interesting PHDast.. you fail to disappoint up and interesting :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Frank - Thank you for reading this lengthy Hub and comments Wasn't quite expecting the first two comments, but he had good questions and they led, I think, to a good and profitable discussion.

Meanwhile, I am more than pleased that once again, I have failed to disappoint. (I love your sentence structure and syntax. They are great.) :)


Script Mechanic profile image

Script Mechanic 4 years ago from Wherever Films Need To Be Nitpicked

I see we're coming at the same film from two different directions. We're bound to disagree. And that's good. Hubs tend to be boring when everyone agrees. There's no point in discussion then, right?

I don't think your attitude toward the subject and your intentions with students is arrogant at all. It's positive and tries to get people to think while accepting that not everyone will be so open-minded. I suppose that's the best manner in which any of us can hope to approach a subject where interpretation is so open.

I haven't gotten to the rest of your hubs yet. Promise I will. It's just been a busy day.

I will try to look at them from a historical standpoint. When I look at a film, it's usually not to assess if it's factual or what its message is so much as to figure out how to get that message across in a better if not more entertaining fashion. Same subject, different directions.

Also, I'm sorry if my first assessment sounded harsh, both to your or the film. Part of what I do involves a great deal of criticism, so I've got a pretty thick skin when it comes to not taking anything personally. And what with the military family on all sides, I tend to be blunt. The truth is I think your assessment has merit from a historical standpoint. I also enjoyed Three Kings, but I think it could have been done better, both in the portrayal of history and as a source of entertainment. And while something isn't perfect, I suppose it's in my nature to nitpick. :)


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

A very interesting read until I got to the bit about a 5 to 6 page lol.

The movie was good. I remember watching it a while back.

We like to believe that we live by a moral code. In reality we live by the law.

In the case of this film 'natural law' was breached and therefore there was an imperative to redress the balance.

The characters actions, appear to be based on morals but I would argue, that the characters are driven by these much deeper natural laws.

It was just the right thing to do, and supercedes national laws.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Teresa,

I found your hub as well as the comments very interesting and enlightening.

We need more teachers like you that just don't teach students a bunch of facts but help them become lifelong critical thinkers and careful observers.

Voted up and away!

Have a good evening.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Script- Exactly correct. We are evaluating and looking for different qualities in films. It makes perfect sense that you watch a film “to figure out how to get that message across in a better if not more entertaining fashion.” I of course, wouldn't begin to know how to do that; I think I had better stick to historical analysis.

I don't think your first assessment was harsh…. blunt, to the point, maybe a bit much for some Hubbers (some of them are very polite and careful what they say in a comment) – possibly…. but harsh? No, I didn't take it that way.

I wasn't sure exactly which direction you were coming from and I couldn't see at first why you had the kinds of objections and questions you did, but your comments certainly deserved a thorough discussion.

My skin is reasonably think, maybe not quite as tough as yours, but not everyone else's is thick, so you might want to pull your punches a little bit until you get to know your readers well. I found in graduate school that I could say almost anything I wanted to to my professors as long as I phrased it properly.

I turned my statements into questions, I turned my absolutes into queries. I linked or couched my statements with the following types of phrases: I wonder, do you suppose, perhaps, is it possible, do you think they meant, would it make sense, should we consider, are there other interpretations, have other people questioned... and so on and so forth.

It worked quite well. I questioned all sorts of things, contradicted all sorts of faculty assumptions, but was rarely seen as threatening . In fact, I got a reputation for being the student who came up with really insightful comments. Who knew it would work so well? :)

I think I learned to do that because my father was both am old-school European immigrant and an Air Force NCO. He relished argument and debate and he wanted us to be good at it, but he was both by back ground and profession really committed to respect. So I guess I found the middle path. Anyway, I look forward to future exchanges. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Michael -

Now, I have a hard imagining that. You, the proud producer of 52, no, is it 53 or 54 Hubs now; you could knock off five or six double spaced pages on pretty much any topic in no time at all. :)

I like how you phrased that. "'natural law' was breached and therefore there was an imperative to redress the balance." That is quite eloquent and I agree with you. Natural law should supersede national law.

For example, if more Germans had defended natural law, instead of quietly watching the Nazis impose their national law, the history of Europe in the middle of the 20th century might have been quite different.

Although, I'm sure the same could be said for many of the tragic episodes in history. An interesting concept to ponder. Thanks so much for your comments....enjoyable and astute, as usual.

Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sue -

So glad you dropped in. It has been a good discussion.

I was very fortunate to have parents and then some great teachers who emphasized becoming "lifelong critical thinkers and careful observers." They really shaped my thinking in general and my teaching approach in specific.

Thank you for all the positive votes. You have a great evening as well. :)

Theresa


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 4 years ago

What a novel way to teach powers of observation and critical thinking. We are so overwhelmed with information, we sometimes are unable to see the truth in the details. Great hub.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your comments. It is an approach that suits me and it seems to work well with the students. :)


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

I had never heard about this movie. It looks interesting and nice to be watched. Thanks for reviewing and put all beautiful pictures here. You have done a great job. Rated up!

Prasetio


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

There are three types of teachers. Those who complain, those who explain and those who inspire. You phdast7 are in inspiration to your students. Thank you for sharing this.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Prasetio for your encouraging comments. I think you will like the film, althoough it is certainly not a typical war or combat film. Have a great week.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Wow, Spirit Whisperer. That may be one of the best compliments I have ever been given. I will remember it when Ihave tough days or struggles with the administration. Thank you for being encouraging, and you are welcome. Sharing is a pleasure and a privilege.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hello Theresa,

I suppose the only excuse that could be argued. re the German's inability to follow natural law, is from a book I read by the holocaust survivor.

Ernest Levy. Titled. The Single Light.

He witnessed the fear, in many descent people, of opposing the Nazi's.

Many did try to hide from the onslaught but eventually succumbed to the tide of hatred sweeping the country.

And joined in to avoid being targeted themselves. Herd mentality!

It was, in the end an issue of their own survival. This is why there was so much 'survivor guilt' amongst many Germans after the war.

They knew, the right thing to do, but there own survival came first.

It's a great book by a remarkable man. Very understanding and forgiving.

PS 56 hubs actually and 2 more on the way lol


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Michael-

I do think many Germans were decent people caught in terrible situations overwhelmed with fear. Hitler and the Nazis were brilliant at creating and maintaining a climate of fear.

The "survivor guilt" issue is a complex one. Interestingly, it was usually presented to me as an affliction that Jewish survivors struggled with; guilt in those who watched their friends and families suffer and die.

But it has been a long time since I have done primary reading in that field, so I have probably missed quite a few historiographic developments in the literature.

I don't know the Levy book, perhaps I can find time to read it between classes this summer.

So, to change the subject. :) Did you care for this Hub that was about the Three Kings and using film as a teaching tool? I kept waiting for the tiniest scrap of reference to it in your comments. :( You know, the old ego comes out of its hiding place. :)

Hope you are having a wonderful evening. The cats and I are.

Theresa


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Firstly like the man in orthopedic shoes 'I stand corrected' for going off topic.

Secondly the issue that is always a problem with these types of films, is this.

In order to get made they have to cater to the lowest common denominator in the audience. Lots of blood and guts explosions etc.

So we see lots of goofing around and actions that would get any front line, or behind the lines soldier shot.

Especially in Iraq where everyone and their aunt have personal arsenals of AK47's and RPG's. If we believe the movie.

The points and allusions to other films, will only be picked up, if one has seen those films.

Even then the allusion may be lost on the bulk of the audience.

Subtlety doesn't really work for the masses.

That may seem a little elitist but that doesn't make it untrue.

This is the difficulty for any director in a commercial venture.

Does he follow the truth which is sometimes unpalatable. i.e.

The soldiers would probably go for the Gold and bugger the locals.

Or produce something that will ensure he gets another gig. i.e. Show the troops in a reluctant hero role.

American foreign policy is primarily based on 'what is good for America'.

There is nothing wrong with this stance, as it would be foolish to be any other way.

However. Self sacrifice is common in all walks of life.

There are numerous examples of people 'doing the right thing'

America has a constitution and it policy aims are guided by this document. Americans tend to follow these tenets too.

Although many administrations have abused these founding principles.

The general American public have much more integrity than some of their leaders.

They like to see these ideas in their movies.

This movie does that and the side swipes at US policy is probably lost on many. Maybe not?

It is possible that these soldiers could have gone off and helped out. It is believable.

A bit simplistic maybe but I too must consider the reader.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

This shows what can be done with the format around here. This hub will provide some valuable research for some serious film/video students. It has been inspirational for some footage we need to process around here. We need a stronger theme to push the editing.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Michael - I am either "slow or confused." I am not sure what you stand corrected for. :) Very interesting comments about the film and about the compromises film-makers make to secure major funding for their major pictures. Thank you for stopping in again to comment. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good to hear from you WD Curry - Thank you for your insightful comments. Using this kind of approach and schematic has helped me get students to be a bit analytical and do a fair amount of writing...things we are always trying to get them to do more of. :) Theresa


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hi Theresa, it was just a wordplay.

'like the man in orthopedic shoes 'I stand corrected'

"For going off topic"

If we wear orthopedic shoes, we stand corrected. I am now totally confused too lol

It was meant to refer to me 'going off topic' and being brought back (corrected) by your comment.

"I kept waiting for the tiniest scrap of reference to it in your comments"

This comment thread could run and run lol

Have a lovely weekend. Beautiful sunshine is bathing Blighty today.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi MIchael - Apparently I was too tired or too distracted (probably by one or all of the four cats!) because I did not get it as you know. But now I do. Also, I so love going off topic and other people going off topic that I become giddy with excitement and am likely to miss the finer points, sometimes major points too. :) Sorry I didn't leave you even a "tiny scrap."

And the thread may indeed go on forever, and I am OK with that. Speaking of wordplay. Was your alliteration intentional or accidental? "Beautiful sunshine is bathing Blightly today." Either way it is quite delightful. :)

"Have a blissful and blessed weekend in balmy, bountiful Blightley where birds and bees are beating their wings over bountiful boquets of blossoms in the beaming sun, bidding him blaze on.

Perhaps if a bewildered, bemused brother comes to visit you can best him at a balanced game of badminton or even better, a borrowed game of backgammon. Will there be a blazing bonfire to block boredom?

Will there be blue balloons for the blessed, blushing, boisterous babies before blameless, bashful, bohemian Betty bathes them and bundles them into bed with their favorite blanket and teddy bear? Oh brave and brilliant sun, our bold beneficent benefactor!"

This is hard work and I am not so good at it. Off to clean and cook, The family all arrives at 4:00. Take good care. :) Theresa


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I have to say I like your film essays...better than any movie review. You take us into the depths and explore meanings we may have missed. I'm not up to the great comments you've elicited but wanted to add my two cents worth.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

This is really an interesting and well done review. I have not seen this film somehow, but am a huge fan of George Clooney, so will seek it out. Sounds like a great class!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello tillson - Thank you. I wasn't sure if what I developed for my courses, with a little tweaking of course, woulr work for the HP reader, but apparently it does. :) Your comments are just fine; the really long, complicated comments are from a man who makes his living as a script writer, and he decided to actually write the essay itself! I always appreciate your two cents worth. :) Take care. Theresa


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phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Jim. It is a good film, not "great" like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Platoon" because there is a lot of camp, sarcasm, and humor. So it is sort of over the top and there are some striking visual effects, because the director was trying to make certain serious points and for a fairly young audience. I am OK with suspending belief and going with the film's flow, which is why I like it. When you get a chance to see it, let me know what you think. Have a great week. Theresa


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Great hub! I like how you approach your essay 'lesson.' I have never seen this movie, but after reading this I will have to rent it and view it. It sounds like a good movie that raises a lot of moral dilemmas and questions for the viewer to pursue. I like movies that make me think and look beyond the adventure story. This sounds like a great lesson for your class. From what I read in your hubs, phdast7, you across as a great teacher and I would love to take one of your classes. You search beyond the surface information and lesson. Thanks for an enlightening hub and I take this as a good recommendation of the movie. Voted up!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi suzette - They need to learn to write essays - better grammar and composition skills are crucial to many professions; they need to learn more about history; they need to learn to be critical thinkers and really evaluate what they read... I was wrestling with how to accomplish all this and keep them interested about 12 years ago, and fortunately I had a Eureka moment. Films!! Almost everyone likes movies. :) I tried it and it was pretty successful so I am still doing it. Most students sign up for the six movies we watch in a fifteen week class, but they write a total of 40-45 pages (typed) for me during the semester. Other history courses require a single 15-20 pp term paper and a final exam. They come for the films, but I am getting a lot of work out of them. And practice does make perfect. :)

Thank you for your generous comments. You can come be a student in my class any time you like. :) (I do have a couple of friends who visit one of my classes every couple of years. Keeps me on my toes. I do try to do more than surface teaching and I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing something I love and care about so much.

It is a good movie and I do recommend it, but it is intense, and it is not a traditional war film. The director uses lots of strange special effects and some outlandish behavior to make his points and entertain his audience. Still the students learn some geography, history, and politics. It is not Saving Private Ryan!!! Although I have used that film, too. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. :) Theresa


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I salute you in using films to teach. I did that too, when I taught. So much can be learned from films and analyzing and writing essays about the films is such a great teaching practice. I would have students read a novel, analyze it and then watch the film and analyze it. They they would compare the novel to the film. Don't you know, several years later, the state of Ohio put doing that in our core curriculum. I had to chuckle - I don't think the dept. of education knew I did that as a lesson, but I was glad to see them put that in the curriculum. I always thought it was so valid for students to learn the differences in the movie from the novel. I love how you teach, Theresa and you go girl!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I salute you in using films to teach. I did that too, when I taught. So much can be learned from films and analyzing and writing essays about the films is such a great teaching practice. I would have students read a novel, analyze it and then watch the film and analyze it. They they would compare the novel to the film. Don't you know, several years later, the state of Ohio put doing that in our core curriculum. I had to chuckle - I don't think the dept. of education knew I did that as a lesson, but I was glad to see them put that in the curriculum. I always thought it was so valid for students to learn the differences in the movie from the novel. I love how you teach, Theresa and you go girl!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

suzette, so you were the pioneer leading the way and eventually the state of Ohio saw fit to put it in the curriculum and the rest of us are still just catching up. :) I will have to talk with some of our English faculty about this. What a terrific idea! You deserve an award or an honorary something or other. If it ever comes up, I am voting for you. :)

Theresa


jainismus profile image

jainismus 3 years ago from Pune, India

Interesting, I would like to watch this movie.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Jainismus. I think you would like it. Just remember it is not a traditional war film...it is pretty over the top with a lot of special effects. Hope you are having a great day. :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

When I saw this movie, it upset me to see soldiers represented in such an unflattering light. In my 40 years of being around them, they are not all heroes, but most of them are.


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phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

The students and I discussed that. How over the top the film was in so many ways: the extreme colors and cinematography, the disrespectful attitudes, language and behaviors, the crazy lady journalist, the attempt to weave extreme humor and sarcasm into into every scene. I think the film did make some good points, but its real value is that I show it near the end of the semester after they have seen several more traditional war films and there is ample fodder for lots and lots of comparison and contrast. Then we talk about Hollywood and directors and what their motivations and intentions are. It provokes a lot of discussion and that is something I am always after. :)


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 2 years ago from American Southwest

Somehow I missed this Hub when you first published it. But just now I opened it and immediately thought, "What is she writing about my hometown?" The first picture you have is a place that some people (my father included) think is a desert, especially since it is in New Mexico, but as you can see in the upper part of the picture, that is snow on the mountains, which go up to 10,000 feet or so. The picture is probably taken from around 7,000 feet altitude at an overlook point which is on the Main Hill Road leading from Santa Fe up to Los Alamos. I have not been in Iraq, but from pictures I have seen, the scenery may be similar in many ways. I have, however, been in a real desert - Saudi Arabia - and thought Riyadh at 9AM felt about like Albuquerque at 3PM.

Anyway, you might guess from all that, I was actually in the USAF during the Gulf War (though I wasn't in Saudi till the following year.) I have not seen this movie, but it sounds like a book I bought shortly after the Gulf War about soldiers in the Gulf War - 20+ years later I have still not finished reading the book because I couldn't stand reading something that portrayed itself as documenting the experience but was so completely not what I saw in the real people I knew there. I do hope you point out to your students that Hollywood is much better at propaganda (because it tends more toward a single point of view) than the government.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

aethelthryth - How amazing! That the picture is of where you live, and that it is so close to Los Alamos (important among other reasons, for the role played in developing the atomic bomb). I was pretty new at searching for pictures when I put this hub together and I just went with whatever I could scrounge up. I knew it wasn't the typical Saudi desert, but I was desperate fpr some images to intersperse with the text.

It is an inaccurate, over the top Hollywood production, at best. It is the last film I show at the end of a semester after they have already seen four more sedate, realistic, historically based war films. It is good in that way to encourage them to do some serious comparison and contrast....its kind of like getting the medicine to go down in the sweet applesauce approach.

I do spend extensive time in the first half of the course, going over bias, propaganda, hidden motivations, director's agenda and perspective, the goals of Hollywood (entertainment), government (power and security), and history (most of the time, a reasonably accurate rendition of events). I also spend time explaining that just because something is in a book or on the evening news, does not mean it is accurate or balanced. I make them repeat after me, "Always cross-reference using multiple and reliable sources." They don't like it of course, they are the Internet Generation and they prefer to look only in Wikkipedia. :( Thanks for commenting and I ope you are having a great week. :) Theresa


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 2 years ago from American Southwest

Glad to hear what you are doing in your class. In case you wonder whether you are succeeding, I had a freshman English class in college that taught me to look beyond the image to see what an advertisement was really saying. And I think I still look at a lot of ads that way. And this was despite the teacher being someone who I would probably disagree with on at least 95% of everything she believed.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi aethelthryth - That was a very good freshmen English course. I find that most of my students have not developed any analytical abilities at all, which is tragic, because as you say, we will use those skills for the rest of our lives. How funny that you and she disagreed on almost everything. Still she taught something that stuck with you. That is my goal with these students, too. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope everything is well with you and your family. :) Theresa

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