Jarhead

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jarheadAnthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his fellow Marines are trained and shipped off to Saudi Arabia at the start of the Gulf War; their existence in the desert is colorful but pointless. This adaptation of Swofford’s bestseller is a war movie without any battle sequences, focusing on young soldiers with nothing else to do but exercise and put up with boredom. The filmmakers nevertheless turn the movie into a compelling experience, with memorable visuals (and I’m not only talking about a naked Gyllenhaal) and a tangible feeling of reality. Reminiscent of many other war movies and falls short of their greatness, but Gyllenhaal is excellent as Swofford.

2005-U.S. 123 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick. Directed by Sam Mendes. Screenplay: William Broyles, Jr. Novel: Anthony Swofford. Cinematography: Roger Deakins. Music: Thomas Newman. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Anthony Swofford), Peter Sarsgaard (Troy), Jamie Foxx (Sykes), Brian Geraghty, Jacob Vargas, Laz Alonso… Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, John Krasinski.

Trivia: Christian Bale was allegedly considered for the part of Swofford. Followed by a direct-to-DVD sequel, Jarhead 2: Field of Fire (2014).

Last word: “I think that it’s deep in the psychology in the Marine Corps that every man looks the same, basically. You have to look very hard to find any kind of insignia on their uniforms. Haircuts the same, uniforms the same and so there’s a sort of selflessness, a sense in which they’re serving something bigger than themselves. And that does take away individuality. I watched it happen to the actors. We cut their hair off, they became different people. And I think the irony of making a movie about it is that you’ll find that all of those things, the selflessness and the wanting to be part of something larger than yourself, are things that actors don’t want. You know, actors want to be individuals, actors want to stand out from the crowd, actors want to have their own distinctive haircut and car and clothes. And so to strip everything away from those actors was fascinating because you watched it happen to the actors in the same way as it happens to the marines.” (Mendes, The Telegraph)

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