Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

War Films

Bizarrely there were not one but two films based on the Gulf War and Iraq on TV last night (and I'm talking terrestrial TV, so only 5 channels): Courage Under Fire and Three Kings. Whilst the first has precious little to do with Iraq (it could have been anywhere, just that Iraq was the last combat zone for US troops) the latter was surprisingly political.

It certainly raised the question of what the US/coalition did after the ceasefire was signed - George Bush (yep, the first one) asking the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam, and then not helping them leaving them to face the inevitable consequences. It certainly adds to the impact that you know what happened to the Kurds and how brutally the rebellion was crushed, and you know that certain situations would have occured. It also tried to raise the issue of the war being fought in the media - but it never really got its teeth into it - it probably got left on the cutting room floor. And there are definitely some eerie parallels with the current mess Iraq is in after the war is officially over.

It was the timing of the two movies appearing on TV that also appeared strange - it was as if they'd suddenly been released from a backlog. TV schedules are often subject to change due to recent media events and it makes me wonder if the films were originally to be shown earlier, but the fact that British troops were fighting in Iraq put them off. Or maybe there was government pressure not to show such films that portrayed the military in a bad light during combat operations.

There's another film about the US military that pretty much got canned because of the military operations after 9/11: Buffalo Soldiers. It's a good movie, but very dark, set in a US army barracks in Germany. It's set during peace time and it shows what they do when they're not fighting. It's like an evil version of Sgt Bilko - instead of card games and gambling, the recruits cook up heroin and supply the local mafia with drugs and weapons. Not the most flattering reflection of the US Army.