Where to begin? It seems that war is just too big of a topic for Hollywood to handle in 90-110 minutes. Go figure. I know I can’t do it justice in 300-plus pages, either, but it will be more accurate than anything Hollywood can dish up.
I suspect what people want from Hollywood is to take the viewer from innocent civilian to battle-hardened soldier and back again. Do we really want Hollywood to tell us about Charlie’s war in Afghanistan or are we more interested in the conflicts within the soul of the Lion of Panjshir?
Modern war movies seem to be more about telling the story within the story. The other problem with movies is that there is no smell, except of popcorn and spilled fountain drinks. Try to imagine the real smells of war. Then smell the “imagined” ones of fear and death. Do death and fear have a scent? Is it a bad thing if you don’t know the answer to that question?
We are all fascinated with war. It is tribalism at its worst and unveils the darkness within each of our souls. That is why scenes from The Deer Hunter are so hard to watch. We realize that war can take good, decent, and normal people to dark places from which they never can fully return. The movies that touch us the most are those that teach us new ways to think about the common man turned warrior. What makes him take on these unbearable loads? Imagine the burden of command, the weight of a nation upon your very flawed and weak mind and body.
What if, after great personal sacrifice and loss, your president gives away with the stroke of his pen the victory soaked in the blood of your friends and the Marines who believed in you enough to follow your not-always-perfect orders?
Why is war hell? you ask. War is hell because of how the Ruling Class mocks the sacrifices of our warriors. Then there is survivor’s guilt thrown in for good measure.
The best modern war movies do not try to explain war or even human nature. What they do is try to provide a glimpse into the impenetrable psychic conflicts that modern warfare weighs upon the American grunt. One reason that Saving Private Ryan did not really work after the opening scenes is because Tom Hanks was miscast in his role as an infantry officer. He could not and did not give us any sense, other than a shaking hand, of what it is like to order good men to their deaths. The only relief from the burden of command in combat is one’s own death, but in dying what if your replacement is an even more flawed human specimen?
In other words, you have asked me, the Soldier, to go to places and do things for you there that you cannot do for yourself. I have been there and done things as ordered. I am forever changed and not always for the better.
Before spending nearly 30 years in the defense of the greatest nation on Earth’s history, I enjoyed the life of a carefree vagabond with nine lives to give. Now I battle 24/7/11 with tyrants. Tyranny is a beast that cannot be killed but only brought to heel.
Your dilemma is whether or not to accept me as I now am or pretend that you have nothing to do with what I have become. I did not start out this way. I know freedom is not free and that our nation is worth the sacrifice but at what human cost? There is no butcher’s bill too great, physically and/or psychologically, we are unwilling to allow our warriors to pay.
Finally, how do you make sure that America will remain worthy of my efforts to defend her? Will I be mocked in the end by my fellow citizens turning the greatest nation on Earth into something that was not worth fighting, killing, and dying for?
3 thoughts on “Preface: LtCol S.x MacTemplar -Shadow Warrior”
Thank you, Simon, and Thank you to all combat veterans.
Where, my dear, are these three-hundred pages? People told me I was soft in the head because The Deer Hunter broke my heart at a tender age. I agree Saving Private Ryan didn’t work.
I recently discovered that my first book was stolen, a personal memoir turned into a mangled bit of fixedshin – reworked and … The audacity has put me off publishing anything through anyone, Apparently, after some investigation, it is common for editors and their others to steal rejected manuscripts, rework them and then go on to win Booker prizes. My creature has apparently been publishing books since he was 17. He couldn’t answer a journalist’s question about the book because he did not write it. Family in the business, perhaps? Don’t go to Hollywood. Ayn Rand would tell you, they mangle everything. Go to the guy who made Lord of the Rings. I don’t know if he is a saint, but he may be able to, at least, because he has the skill, and maybe the means, to make a decent war story. Do make sure you are on set and have the right to say, “That’s not what I wrote!”
But, whatever you do, (I am old and could die any day), I want to read more than the premise. Please. email@example.com I am not a thief. Much Love and Benevolent Light.
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Ugh! I am a thief. I pinched your picture, but it will remain on my laptop. I thought I might draw your wonderful self. I write better than I draw, but I do love drawing.