Sunday, December 30, 2007

Flags of Our Fathers

I was watching the movie "Flags of Our Fathers" earlier tonight. This is the movie that Clint Eastwood made about the American soldiers who raised the second flag on Mount Suribachi, who were then in the famous photograph, and then sent back to the States to help sell war bonds. It's a companion piece to "Letters to Iwo Jima", which told the Japanese side of the story.

Frankly, I was disappointed. I was really looking forward to the movie, too. But it seemed to be too didactic. The characters were more like caricatures and stereotypes. They didn't have much depth and didn't elicit much sympathy from me. And the story seemed to lose a lot in the display of moviemaking techniques. In "Saving Private Ryan", the raw display of violence, explosions, and death were shocking. This time around, they seemed to be expected. "Okay, here's a war scene, so we gotta trot out all the "Saving Private Ryan" stuff or nobody will watch". All the "shocking" scenes were, well, expected. It was as if they said, "Here's a scene of bodybags, you know what you're supposed to feel, go feel it."

I turned it off about halfway through. Bummer. I know Eastwood's heart was in the right place, but the execution of this movie missed the mark.

Which makes me think about my own work, since I'm doing something along the same lines in paint that Eastwood wanted to do with the film. My work, too, punches some of the same buttons. "Here's a picture of a soldier with no legs. You know what you're supposed to feel, go feel it." I worry that my paintings are too obvious, too didactic. But when I see people walk right by one that is more subtle, where they obviously don't get it nor even spend the time to think about it for a moment, then I feel I have to take a sledgehammer to get their attention. "Dammit, this is important! Look at it! Think about it!"

I dunno. I'm going to show Lament, You Don't Understand, and Warrior again soon, and will watch the reactions of viewers to all three. And if you have a comment, let me know. All three can be seen at www.skiprohde.com/war.html

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