A short time after the worst US war defeat in the nation’s history – the Vietnam War – a growing wave of films began emerging in attempts to grapple with America’s open war wounds. Some focused on allegorical cautionary tales such as “Apocalypse Now,” an epic masterpiece showing the war in Southeast Asia as a nightmare of misguided confusion and terror, and ultimately its senseless brutality. The caricatures depicted left an indelible imprint on viewers with Robert Duvall’s perverse character proclaiming that napalm in the morning “smells like victory.” Or the decorated war hero-West Pointer renegade colonel played by Marlon Brando who saw the evil Empire war for what it was worth and jumped ship to the other side to become a hero worshipped, warrior God to the indigenous deep jungle inhabitants. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 tour-de-force of an anti-war film became both a box office smash as well as Oscar nominated Best Picture with Coppola himself nominated as Best Director.
Just the year before in 1978 an Oscar winner for its stars was “Coming Home,” exploring the devastating impact of war on relationships. War’s collateral damage manifesting at home in the form of marital infidelity centered on stateside wife (Jane Fonda’s character), her wayward, war-fighting, PTSD-stricken husband (Bruce Dern) amidst the burgeoning intimacy of another war victim-paraplegic played by Jon Voight. The powerful reality drama in its raw emotional delivery depicted how different individuals participating in that debacle of a war each responded to their own pain, trauma and suffering. The film poignantly transcended its challenge as a potential soap opera-ish tearjerker to bring us as an audience closer home than we might comfortably want in understanding the war’s very real catastrophic consequences on vulnerable and frail human beings.
Also the year before “Apocalypse Now” came another Oscar winning portrait of the before, and aftereffects of Americans living through the Vietnam War in Michael Cimino’s 1978 “Deer Hunter.” Capturing the pro-war sentiment of a small steel mining town in Pennsylvania with a huge wedding celebration as a joyful tribute to three young men about to join the war effort, the second half of the film focuses on the costly toll that combat takes on the fragile human psyche and the deep sense of loyalty amongst war buddies. The mountainous treks in search of conquering the hunted act as a metaphorical backdrop to the complex nuance of male bonding juxtaposed by man’s inhumanity toward both all that is beautiful and natural as well as the brutality of man’s inhumanity to man. This film also offers deep human insight as another allegorically dark, cautionary tale of the heavy lessons of war.
Perhaps the most accurate Oscar winning depiction of what it must have been like as an American soldier trying to stay alive in the jungles of Southeast Asia was Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone’s 1986 Oscar winner “Platoon.” The graphic horror of war in all its senselessness including a glimpse into atrocities committed by the US military is brilliantly shown bringing out both war’s best and worst in human nature.
Oliver Stone once again won another Best Director Oscar for delving masterfully into the damaging effects of war in his 1989 “Born on the Fourth of July” based on the true life account written by war veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic. This story depicts so vividly with such powerfully raw emotion PTSD on both combat veterans and the rippling effects on their families. Again depicted is the patriotic small town fervor that never fails to accompany young men believing strongly in America’s righteous cause.
Whether succumbing to the old domino theory of stopping the Red Scare spread of nemesis Russia and China or the global terrorism of US-made al Qaeda, the US government has forever used in its propagandist arsenal movies from Hollywood. Prior to and even up to the Vietnam War with 1968’s “The Green Beret,” such mythic war hero acting legends as John Wayne have bedazzled and enticed many a young men into joining up and later dying for America’s chronic war cause.
Ron Kovic, like Pat Tillman and Bowe Bergdahl from the Afghan War, all fell victim to this same longtime jingoistic propaganda, faced the ugly truth about Empire wars, felt betrayed and suffered a crisis in conscience that compelled them to rebel against war. Whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden in their own ways bravely did too.
Still another powerful projection of the Vietnam War’s insanity was demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 anti-war homage “Full Metal Jacket.” set during the Tet Offensive. Though there have been a number of other cinematic efforts to historically portray the Vietnam War for what it was, several deserving honorable mention include “The Boys in Company C” (1977), “Go Tell the Spartans” (1979), “Casualties of War” (1989) and “We Were Soldiers” (2002). But the aforementioned half dozen highly acclaimed motion pictures realistically best represent and truthfully present the Vietnam War in all its complexity, horror and tragedy, at least from the American point of view. More films could be done focusing on the one to three million Asian lives lost at the hands of America’s imperialistic war and the millions more who survived America’s crimes against their humanity. Though there are some Vietnamese films about the war, few have been seen by Americans.
In stark contrast to that war period, no post-9/11 film has even come close to telling the truth about either the Iraq or Afghanistan War. Probably the most accurate rendition was 2009’s Oscar winning “The Hurt Locker.” It follows the life of an American GI whose specialty is dismantling bombs. Its gritty portrayal of the Iraq War through one soldier’s experience comes across as extremely realistic in its cinema verite style. But it stays clear of revealing the war and occupation’s political debauchery, immorality and corruption, and barrenly empty in presenting the tragic human side and cost of war. The main character seems almost inhuman, mechanically going through his day-to-day high wire act with abandoned precision. Devoid of any anti-war element, whatever transmitted war message is neutered by its detached, matter-of-fact presentation, choosing to neither take a stand for or against the war. However, after the combat veteran returns home, the mundane emptiness of his everyday family life becomes no match for the adrenalin rush of wartime deployment as the protagonist succumbs to his irresistibly alluring addiction and most salient PTSD symptom. It portrays motivation for multiple tours, exactly what today’s Empire both wants and needs from its soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg stars in the recent “Lone Survivor” based on the true story written by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell of his harrowing combat experience in Afghanistan. Though it demonstrates the fraternal bonding love that soldiers in war experience together along with their remarkable courage, the film may as well be a recruitment add for Navy SEALs. Through one man’s story of survival, this film is designed to reflect the heroic passion and dedication America’s elite military possess in fighting American Empire wars. If anything, like mostly all war films nowadays, it glorifies the mission of America as the “exceptional” fighting force so that we at home can enjoy our ”freedom,” the same old cliche that has now become just another lie.
Capturing the immoral depravity and brutality of America’s longest wars in history has yet to even be attempted by Hollywood, despite the near decade and a half since their beginning. And this gaping hole in cinema history is all too evident in how the wars have been covered with so called embedded news journalism. Unlike the Vietnam War where cameras followed soldiers onto the battlefield and observed in black and white actual red blood flowing from real life dying Americans, twenty-first century wars are censored and hermetically sealed from exposing any real truth about the horrors of war. The in-our-face realism broadcast nightly into living rooms across America decades ago more than any other single factor caused the nation to virtually overnight turn 180 degrees against the Vietnam War. From America’s most popular song of the entire year in 1966 was Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler singing “Ballad of the Green Beret.” But just two short years later America went from overwhelmingly favoring the war to the war President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Oval Office abdication from even running again because the nation had so vehemently turned against that unpopular war. That is what real war shown on living room television screens can do.
Of course this never happened during these two even longer running wars in the Middle East. Despite the boldface lies perpetrated by the neocon Bush-Cheney regime behind the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the overt evidence that their diabolical plan was in place to wage war against Iraq long before their 9/11 false flag, the anti-war movement never quite got off the ground. By the war criminals’ grand design, the sanitized, artificially delivered coverage of these latest American wars neither showed any of the near million and a half humans dying in Iraq alone nor any GI body bags loaded up and coming home. Such is how this sterilized version of modern imperialistic wars are fought by America’s standing army of volunteers – out of sight, out of mind to the oblivious 99% of the US population not actually fighting and dying on foreign oil-rich battlefields half a world away. The widening disconnect between US military and the US civilian population is also by sinister design.
Instead of the remarkable, disturbingly realistic films chronicling the Vietnam War, all we get now from this latest batch of US wars are either recruitment stories or the sterile “Hurt Locker’s” numbing rendition of war insanity by the same Oscar winning filmmaker who three years later was behind the “true story” account of how Uncle Sam finally got his boogey man – “Zero Dark Thirty.” A full ten years after 9/11, only through such heroic, never-give-up persistence, an ace crack team of CIA-black ops superheroes finally were able to track down and nail their phantom ringleader in Osama bin Laden, who had been conveniently playing the same “lone gunman” role for 9/11 as Oswald-Sirhan-James Earl did for the Kennedy-MLK false flag operations. That this too was a fictional tale made for good rah-rah, God-bless-America just like “Flight 93’s “let’s roll” did prior to crashing into that mysterious Pennsylvania field where no wreckage or bodies were ever found.
Despite the saccharinely contrived twisting of history so American Empire residents can feel better about themselves and their nation’s inhumane wars, Hollywood no longer has neither the interest nor permission nor courage to portray war as it historically is, not when it has been hijacked by the likes of the Pentagon and the CIA. No more can the film industry honestly and accurately depict war or America as they really are, not when the plague that long ago muzzled and killed independent journalism in this country also descended upon to muzzle and kill Hollywood. Like the presstitute corps, Hollywood is just another false mouthpiece for manufacturing deceit that covers up government criminality. We will not be seeing any more anti-war films, not in this apocalyptic pro-war era of America’s tyranny, oppression and Empire decline.
The United States is owned and controlled by oligarchs who own and control the top transnational corporations who own and control virtually all the national governments. They send their CIA-Pentagon goons out to Hollywood to make sweetheart deals with the big studios ensuring that only action war hero propaganda spews forth onto the big screens. The total absence of films reflecting any attempt at showing real truth about the sins of war and violence is just another form of censorship among many that rules our lives today. After all, war is here to stay and fresh bodies of young patriotically misguided men and women are sorely needed on the many battlefronts to come. And anything remotely exposing the true horror and ugliness of war and violence is simply not conducive to the perpetual war making machine. So keep all those fake video games and fake movies going with all those fake superheroes spilling fake blood while killing all those evil-minded fake Moslem jihadists. That way real people will continue shedding real blood all over the world just like the oligarchy wants and demands.
Whatever you do Hollywood, don’t show war and violence for the unnatural ugliness of what they really are. Or how our tax dollars draining Americans have long been financing, arming and hiring al Qaeda mercenaries, the same ones that supposedly killed 3000 of us on 9/11 to fight all its proxy wars against Russia-China-Iran-Syria in places like Syria and Libya along with the Balkans in the 1990’s and Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Though our country keeps losing war after war after war, again it is all by grand oligarchic, New World Order design to destroy America. Everyone loses but that less than 1% that obscenely profits from war with its most obvious agenda to destabilize, impoverish and control every nation on earth.
Remarking on how effective propaganda is in the US, former 1980’s CIA Director William Casey once uttered: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
As the war drums beat louder all the time, to illustrate the utter cold blooded contempt that oligarch puppets like war criminal Henry Kissinger harbors toward Americans and our soldiers in particular, he brazenly stated: “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”
And even more brazenly arrogant when reflecting how effective his NWO plan is being executed with so little resistance, Kissinger boasts, “Illegal we do immediately… unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
It appears they already have accomplished their coup. The US Constitution is all but dead and buried, no longer upheld by all those traitors in government sworn to protect it.
Using mind control methods for decades to mesmerize, desensitize, brainwash and blind young Americans to the savagery of war and violence by glorifying it through Hollywood propaganda films, the US government has been effectively manipulating multiple generations to do its dirty bloody bidding as sacrificial lambs at the geopolitical Masonic altar where no one wins but the bloodthirsty 1% war profiteering vampires who have been getting away with bloody murder for centuries.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.