Sunday, December 04, 2005

Jarhead: The Pathology of Soldierism

In Jarhead, the soldier’s life runs its full, but unconsummated, gamut during the Gulf War. We watch as they train for one job—Marine sniper—only to see them disillusioned and jonesing, without assignment, without targets to kill. The desert scenes, then, are not filled with climactic spectacle (that doesn’t mean there aren’t explosions) but instead with an anti-climactic inactivity. The whole film is itching, really, to see those soldiers make a kill. The film is smart, though, and denies such fulfillment. In this respect, Jarhead opens the mason jar on the soldier ideology: more than anti-war (and it’s certainly not pro-war by any means), it is a movie that copes with the decision that so many people make every day—going off to war—and, thus, is about the pathology of soldierism.

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