For the next 42 days we're going to be counting down to the release of SEAL Team 666. Why 42? Because it's the answer to the universal question.
Today we have Steven Spruill. I first met Steve at NECON about ten years ago. I was in awe when I met him for sure. He's going to hate me for saying this, but I remember reading The Paradox Planet when I was a kid. Well, Steve has been on top of the heap since then and is one of my personal luminaries. His most recent novel-length work is one of my top five books on the Korean War, ICE MEN. Also, since his wife is of general officer rank (civilian equivalent), she's the only wife of a fellow writer that I think by regulation I have to salute.
Regardless, here are Steve's answers.
Regardless, here are Steve's answers.
1. What’s your favorite military movie, book or television show?
My favorite military movie is Gladiator. While the entire movie is not, strictly-speaking, military it is all about fighting and combat and has a great opening battle scene.
2. Why is it your favorite? Here’s where you can ramble a bit.
Gladiator, with excellent cgi and great production values, starts off with some awesome fight scenes demonstrating the differences in military tactics between the Romans and their barbarian enemies. General Maximus, having lost everything because of the betrayal of the emperor's son, embarks on a long road to revenge, always an involving trope, which in the movie serves the nobler purpose of saving Rome from a dangerous despot. The movie features lots of great gladiatorial fight scenes. An earlier big movie from roughly the same era, "Spartacus," points up the irony of Rome having trained gladiators who later used their military skills to organize a rebellion against Rome. Spartacus was a stirring movie with a bitter ending, but I had more trouble getting into it than I did for Gladiator, perhaps because I've always been fascinated by Rome. I view that era as a good one for the advance of civilization until near the end of the empire, at which point it deserved to fall. This may explain why I liked the story line of Gladiator better. It was purely fictional, whereas Spartacus was not, but hey, we're talking fiction, here.
In modern military movies, it has been my sense that the theme of the evil general who is leading his troops in some unconstitutional venture or the other has been overused. It was handled well in the book and movie "Seven Days in May." That story was probably inspired by General MacArthur, even though MacArthur accepted his exile by Truman and did not try the overthrow imagined for the character played by Burt Lancaster in the movie. "Seven Days in May" may have been a rough prototype for later movies in which the military is portrayed as villainous in some way or other. From the fifties through the seventies, a number of mediocre to good, dramatic movies were made on the Korean War and WWII, even as Vietnam began to change the way war movies were made, with Deer Hunter being the best example of a dysphoric war movie. "The Battle of the Bulge," with Robert Shaw as the German tank corps commander, was stirring and excellent, as was "The Longest Day." But more recent movies, it seems to me (with the exception of movies featuring "special forces") have mined the trope that the military could be easily corrupted and perverted from its constitutional mission. It might be possible that a disaffected colonel, passed over for promotion to general, could cause some mischief if he were beloved enough by his men. But men and women don't make it to the general staff by harboring disloyal impulses, and the main body of enlisted men and women would, I'm sure, balk at following any orders aimed at the overthrow of constitutional authority. As the husband of a top Pentagon official, I've sat down to dinner with many generals and admirals and I've also had plenty of exposure to the excellent cadre of non-commissioned officers (sergeants and petty officers) who keep offices running in the Pentagon. I have never met a general or a non-com yet who would not shrink in horror from any suggestion of violating the constitutional chain of command which puts the President at the top as commander-in-chief, and that goes for the rank-and-file soldier as well. So movies about the evil American military leave me shaking my head.
|This is in my top five books about the Korean War!|
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