In the Valley of Elah

>> Monday, October 15, 2007

I remember when this opened at the Grand a few weeks ago. The first person who walked out after the movie was over was the Spanish teacher I had at TCC. I don't think he recognized me, but what he said as he walked out of the theater was, "Powerful film." It's such a cliché (and often overused) statement, but I do think it's true in this case.

I don't think I was ever completely surprised during the movie. Saddened, revolted and moved, yes, but not surprised. Nothing much about the U.S. military surprises me anymore. Even though much has changed under the Bush administration for the armed services, many of the seeds were planted long before the Iraq War started. That subplot about the wife, the dog and her death...spousal abuse rates have always been higher in the military than in the civilian population. Couldn't help but think of stories I've read about Fort Bragg...

When they refer to some torture scenes--however briefly in the film--it reminds me of articles I've read about the use of torture by the French in the Algerian War. Everyone always thinks of the prisoners that were tortured or preventing torture for that reason, but what about the torturers? What happens to them? Something terrible is always done to the torturers even though they don't realize it in the process. Loss of connection to their soul, respect for themselves and others, etc. When people debate torture they don't think of the cost that the perpetrators will bring onto themselves and back into society. It's a short-term pain for short-term gain mentality.

The lack of foresight just pisses me off.

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