If you haven't seen "In The Valley of Elah," I highly recommend it.
This movie, by Canadian writer and director Paul Haggis, is about the violence that war brings home. You could say it's about post-traumatic stress disorder, but only in the way "Boys Don't Cry" is about rape. It's something of a "Coming Home" or "The Deer Hunter" for our current Vietnam.
I find it interesting that the great Vietnam War movies were made several years after that war ended; "Deer Hunter" and "Coming Home" were 1978, "Apocalypse Now" was 1979. There were a slew of lesser Vietnam movies in the mid-1980s, too.
But movies about the war in Iraq are coming out while the war is still going on. People are somehow able to process it and comment on it as art while it is being lived.
I think this must be a function of, among other things, the Iraq War being less present in our daily lives. The US - and Canada, too, I think - were rocked by the Vietnam War. It was so divisive, and so massive, as were the demonstrations against it. The war was on TV every night, flag-draped coffins and all. The country was in a constant fever. Perhaps people couldn't get enough distance from it to create art that commented on it.
Now the war goes on, out of sight. It's been left to writers, filmmakers, playwrights and bloggers to try to keep it in front of us.
"In The Valley of Elah" and "Redacted" were the non-documentary Iraq War movies I most wanted to see before baseball season begins. One down, and we'll see if Zip sends me the other in time.
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I feel unspeakably sad and frightened when I think of the long-term effects of the US-caused violence in Iraq. Not only is the US devastating the country it invaded, it is further devastating itself.
So many veterans returning home from that horror will inevitably turn to violence, or addiction, or both. And they will not get the help they need and deserve. Their response will compound the violence in an already extremely violent society. People will die, their families will suffer, they themselves will continue to suffer. And for what? For what?
Bear witness to what they have seen. Help them end the war.