Musings: Who wants to win the war?

22 11 2007

It is clear that Barnes does — it is why he’s in Vietnam, it is the job he has to do and was trained for. And he might be the only one. Cpt. Harris? He has not enough screen time to make his attitude clear.

It must have been extremely frustrating for Barnes not only to fight the enemy, but also the indifference of the others.

Contrary to what Mr Butler wrote in “Myth and Countermyth…”, I’m not sure if Elias really wants to win the war too. He seems to be disillusioned about it and he doubts it can be won at all. On the other hand he’s as trapped in the situation as Barnes. It’s not said how long both sergeants have still to serve, but none of them seems to count days. I don’t know enough about the “tour” system during the Vietnam war, but it seems that after a year one had to sign in for another, and if that is true, both must have prolonged their service, and both probably for the same reason: there was no coming back to the normal life, for none of them.

Elias cope with the situation by escape into drugs and a certain fatalistic melancholy. It is even more visible in the deleted dialogue from the night scene when he says: “Whatever happen — I’ve had a good time, I have no regrets. I’ve had my time in the sun…” and he sounds as if he was already on his way to the happy hunting ground.

Barnes on the other hand seems to suppress any emotions beside hatred an rage, as if they were a shell holding him together. The nearest thing to baring his soul is the “I am reality” scene, ironically it happens not  in front of his “buddies” but men he knew he was hated by. An there is only darkness inside. War and keeping his “machine” running is everything what left.

Elias seems to react with bravado, he seems not to be afraid of death, rather challenging it all the time. In Barnes’ case I’m not sure if he is afraid of dying or — like when he was shot in the head — that death would reject him again.

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