I received an awards consideration screener of “Lone Survivor” before Christmas and watched it at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and knew it would speak for itself so I didn’t write a review. I was not in the least bit surprised it did an outstanding box office number of 38 million dollars last weekend. The movie is a gung-ho look at American heroism. It shows what our men in the armed forces do out of a love for country. It shows their heroism, skill and determination. It also shows how ugly war and specifically, Afghanistan, was during its height.
What I am completely surprised about is that it is now being criticized as being American propaganda both from within and outside the United States. I have been told that people in Western Europe are looking at the movie as pure propaganda to show how wonderful America and our way of life is. From within the United States, liberals are up in arms about the movie. I just don’t get it.
David Forsmark, in his article 5 Reasons the Left Is Hating on Lone Survivor—The Same 5 Reasons for Patriots to Love It, makes the case that this movie is for and about patriots. I don’t want to state too much about this article except to say that you should read it. However, here is an interesting quote:
Lone Survivor projects an attitude toward war that is basically: War is hell, but it’s what we gotta do, and we have some good guys who are really really good at it.
This is not a revolutionary point, but this is a recounting of a true story, not a philosophical treatise!
The shorthand for those who try to diminish the greatness of Lone Survivor– even those admitting it’s a pretty good movie– goes like this: nothing new, no new insight, nothing to say, lack of perspective, jingoistic. Funny, I think the word they may be searching for is… patriotic?
So, did I fall into the same—if opposing—trap as wannabe Roger Ebert, Stephen Boone? Did I like Lone SurvivorBECAUSE of my politics?
But just to show you there are honest critics in the mainstream, I’ll turn to Leonard Maltin, not especially known for his political commentary, to sum the movie up nicely:
There are no false heroics here, only the bravery of men under fire who trust each other with their very lives. The final twist involving Luttrell could only come from a true story, as no one would think to make it up.
Lone Survivor is a tough movie but a rewarding one. It’s humbling to watch this dramatization of the sacrifices these men make, without hesitation. Peter Berg was determined to do justice to them, and he has succeeded.
Maybe, I’ve become an ignoramus. Maybe I don’t understand the world. But, basically what is wrong with telling a true story of American bravery? I have a rather strong memory of World War II movies showing the bravery of both American and allied forces. In fact, Hollywood produced these as part of the war effort. Just watch “People of Russia,” (1942), made by MGM. In that 10 minute short, MGM says that Communist Russia was great. This films shows how wonderful socialism is in the Soviet Union and how great a leader Joseph Stalin was. In retrospect, it is quite clear this was made because Russia was our ally in 1942 and we were trying to pump up our allies during the war. Historically, we all know how crazy Stalin was and how dangerous the Soviet Union was. In the past, we just supported our allies. This is not true in Western Europe anymore.
American filmmakers, specifically Frank Capra, also produced the “Why We Fight” series during the war to pump up patriotism and to show the evils of fascism. This was propaganda in its trueist sense. In fact, it was no more propaganda than anything made by the Nazis to show the evilness of the allies.
After the war, a litany of movies were made espousing American heroism. Just watch, “The Longest Day,” “The Battle of the Bulge,” “The Dirty Dozen,” etc. But, now this same type of movie (which happens to be true) is frowned upon by the liberal press in both America and Western Europe. As I said before, I just don’t get it. It’s a good thing that people in the Red States think otherwise. They are the people driving the box office on this film and many like it. They are the people who will make this movie a certified hit. And, by coincidence, these are the same people who made “The Passion of the Christ,” and “The Bible,” hits. Sooner or later, Hollywood and the rest of the world might get it. But, don’t hold your breath.