Last year several war films were introduced to the public, each depicting true heroism and sacrifice. They’re coming out during a time of President Obama’s struggle to keep his supporters happy. Each film is inspirational and provides a sense of patriotism and optimism that is sorely needed at this time. Recently several Hollywood stars spoke at college commencements slamming President Obama. Hollywood hunk Matthew McConaughey preached conservatism saying “LIFE’S NOT EASY…don’t try and make it that way. It’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, it won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitlement trap of feeling you are a victim, you are not. Get over it and get on with it.” Bradley Cooper also gave an commencement speech where he blasted Rolling Stone magazine who reported a unverified rape claim saying, “It has been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss,” Helms told graduating seniors. “I would add, that sometimes a rolling stone also gathers no verifiable facts, or even the tiniest morsels of journalistic integrity.”
Hollywood released the film American Sniper and has become one of the most heroic movies in years. Bradley Cooper, known for his comedic roles in The Hangover series, portrayed Chris Kyle. Kyle was a Navy Seal who deployed to Iraq four different times as a sniper to back up troop movement by identifying and killing anyone who threatens American soldiers. Kyle was asked several times why he kept going back and he replies by saying he loves his country, he wants to protect it and his “brothers” and is willing to die for what he believes in if it should come to that. “Rolling Stone tried to define you this year,” Helms said. “As a result, not only was this community thrown deep into turmoil, but the incredibly important struggle to address sexual violence on campuses nationwide was suddenly more confusing than ever, and needlessly set back.”
One of the many powerful scenes in the movie occurs when he’s back in San Diego in between tours and he’s at a tire shop getting a new one put on his truck. A young man recognizes him and introduces himself to Kyle and knows him from Iraq, that he saved his life by carrying him to safety after having lost his leg while in combat together. Kyle doesn’t recognize the young man but you can tell he is clearly uncomfortable when the wounded veteran with the prosthetic leg thanks him multiple times, salutes him and then bends down to tell the young son that his father is a true hero and that he saved his life. Kyle’s humility, although subtle, is demonstrated when he doesn’t salute back and seems to be very embarrassed by the overwhelming adulation.
Hollywood also released Unbroken, a story of survival amid the most unrelenting situations of brutality and depravity. It is the life story story of Louis Zamperini based on the book by Lauren Hillenbrand. In the movie, Zamperini survives forty-seven days floating in the South Pacific after his plane crashed due to mechanical failure. His misfortune only gets worse when he and a surviving crew mate are found by Japanese sailors and taken to a prison camp outside Tokyo.
There he is tortured around the clock by sadistic camp commander known as “The Bird.” We as Americans wonder how Zamperini could have survived up to this point and continues to go downhill. He’s transferred to a slave labor camp with other prisoners of war, only to find that The Bird is the commandant having been previously transferred from the one where he terrorized Zamperini. And the terrorizing and torture begins all over again. In one scene the Japanese take Zamperini to Tokyo to entice him into being a propaganda tool, where if he were to publicly support their failing war effort, he would be allowed to leave the camp and live in relative comfort as some American soldiers had chosen to do. Without hesitation, he tells them he won’t do it and is returned to the hard labor and torture he had been enduring for nearly two years. His liberation along with the other prisoners-of-war finally arrives and he’s reunited with his family back in Los Angeles.
Hollywood also introduced us to no-so-well known British hero, Alan Turig. Turig is a British mathematician who played a pivotal role in aiding the Allied forces in winning World War II by breaking the Engima machine, a machine the Nazi’s used for communicating mission instructions to their forces wherever they’re located. By breaking the code, England and its Allies will know the Nazis every move.
The backstory woven throughout the film is the revelation that Turig was homosexual, which was a serious crime in Britain during the war. A British court convicts him of indecency and forces him to either serve two years in prison or undergo hormone therapy to ‘cure’ him. He chooses the therapy but commits suicide a year later. Although some may find the subject of his homosexuality not a conservative theme, it’s more his perseverance to succeed is what really stands out, most definitely a conservative theme.
The common theme through all three movies is the achievement of the human spirit, true heroism, sacrifice and integrity of Chris Kyle, Louis Zamerini and Alan Turig, themes not often seen coming out of Washington or Hollywood in the Age of Obama. Hollywood appears to be getting the message, which hopefully will lead Washington to getting the message. Learning from the past, something conservative by nature and antithetical to liberalism, just might bode well for the future.