On Captain Harris Doing Nothing and “Impossibility of Reason”

7 09 2008

Apparently a longer time must have passed between the village incident and Barnes shooting Elias, which calls a question why the heck capt. Harris didn’t do anything about it — was it because they haven’t been to the headquarters during that time, or because he didn’t want to deal with the issue, (just like in the case of Ericksson in Casualties of War), maybe even hoping the problem will solve itself — and it indeed happened…

After a brief look into the script: there was nothing that indicated the time passing in the original draft. The following passage was added to the movie as it was shot:

Day by day, I struggle to maintain… not only my strength, but my sanity. It’s all a blur. I have no energy to write. I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong any more. The morale of the men is low. There’s civil war in the platoon. Half the men with Elias, half with Barnes. There’s a lot of suspicion and hate. I can’t believe we’re fighting each other… when we should be fighting them.

Hmmm, interesting… in the script, the church battle and Elias’ death could have happened the next day after the village incident. (Which somehow fits into the parallel between the “beautiful night” scene and the Jesus’ night at Gethsemane I wrote about before) I wonder why Stone decided to “stretch” the time? To insert the voiceover pointing out the “civil war” inside of the platoon?


BTW I have read somewhere about the usual routine in an infantry unit: like the platoons were on their feet for the whole day, at the evening  getting ressuplied and digging in, only to march another couple of miles the next day, trying to “search and destroy” the enemy — and that for weeks in one piece before they were allowed to rest in the base camp.

I might be just an ignorant to military strategy, but the way things were going, it looked more like an organized waste of resources than any strategy at all, and probably it was also what Chris was referring to as “impossibility of reason”. Have to find that source again…


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