by Tim Jones 1/24/15
During the latter part of 2014, there have been three war-time movies introduced to the public, each depicting the heroism, sacrifice and ingenuity of the human spirit. It is interesting they have come out at a time of extreme political cynicism and fragmentation. Each one is incredibly inspirational providing a sense of unity and optimism that is sorely needed at this time, so one wonders if Hollywood is getting more conservative or have they gotten the message that the public is a lot more conservative than they think, or possibly both.
American Sniper may be one of the most heroic movies in years. Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who is deployed to Iraq four different times as a marksman specialist to back up troop movement by identifying and killing anyone who threatens American soldiers. Kyle gets asked a couple of times why he keeps going back and his reply is always because he loves his country, he wants to protect it and his ‘brothers,’ and is willing to die for what he believes in if it should come to that.
One of the many powerful scenes in the movie occurs when he’s back in San Diego in between tours and he’s at a tire shop getting a new one put on his truck. A young man recognizes him and introduces himself to Kyle and knows him from Iraq, that he saved his life by carrying him to safety after having lost his leg while in combat together.
Kyle doesn’t recognize the young man but you can tell he is clearly uncomfortable when the wounded veteran with the prosthetic leg thanks him multiple times, salutes him and then bends down to tell the young son that his father is a true hero and that he saved his life. Kyle’s humility, although subtle, is demonstrated when he doesn’t salute back and seems to be totally embarrassed by the overwhelming adulation.
In Unbroken, a tour de force of survival amid the most unrelenting situations of depravity and brutality. It is the life story story of Louis Zamperini based on the book by Lauren Hillenbrand. In the movie, Zamperini survives forty-seven days floating in the South Pacific after his plane crashed due to mechanical failure. His misfortune only gets worse when he and a surviving crew mate are found by Japanese sailors and taken to a prison camp outside Tokyo.
There he is perpetually tortured by the sadistic camp commander nicknamed “The Bird.” One wonders how Zamperini could have possibly survived up to this point and continues to worsen. He’s transferred to a slave labor camp with other prisoners of war, only to find that The Bird is the commandant having been previously transferred from the one where he terrorized Zamperini. And the terrorizing and torture begins all over again.
In one scene the Japanese take Zamperini to Tokyo to entice him into being a propaganda tool, where if he were to publicly support their failing war effort, he would be allowed to leave the camp and live in relative comfort as some American soldiers had chosen to do. Without hesitation, he tells them he won’t do it and is returned to the hard labor and torture he had been enduring for nearly two years. His liberation along with the other prisoners-of-war finally arrives and he’s reunited with his family back in Los Angeles.
The Imitation Game is the not-so-well known story of a British mathematician Alan Turing, who plays a pivotal role in helping the Allied forces win World War II by cracking the codes of the Nazi “Enigma” machine. It is a device they use for communicating mission instructions to their armed forces wherever they’re located. By breaking the code, England and its Allies will know the Nazis every move.
With the conviction and the certainty of a man who knows he will be successful, Turing convinces the powers that be that he can create a machine that can break Enigma, a seemingly impossible project since it has 159 million million possible combinations. It is his determination to succeed that pays off when it appears that his ‘machine’ he designed and built is not going to work.
The back story throughout the movie that comes to the fore towards the end is Turing’s homosexuality. A British court convicts him of indecency and forces him to either serve two years in prison or undergo hormone therapy to ‘cure’ him. He chooses the therapy but commits suicide a year later. Although some may find the subject of his homosexuality not a conservative theme, it’s more his perseverance to succeed is what really stands out, most definitely a conservative theme.
Turing’s invention that broke the Enigma encoding device and what came to be called “Turing Machines,” was essentially the first computer, paving the way for the explosion in computer science and development in the years to follow. All the smartphones, laptops and tablets today are descendants of the original Turing Machine.
The common thread between all three of these movies is the triumph of the human spirit. The heroism, sacrifice and ingenuity of Chris Kyle, Louis Zamperini and Alan Turing are not the themes nor characteristics that are found very often coming out Washington or Hollywood in the myopic Age of Obama. But if Hollywood is getting the message then hopefully Washington might be getting it as well. By learning from the past, something conservative by nature and antithetical to liberalism, just might bode well for the future. • (3750 views)