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MOVIE REVIEW:Southern Comfort
An Army Guard unit lost in the swamps of Louisiana. Lots of familiar
faces: Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, and Fred Ward.
They get lost, borrow some boats and fire off some rounds. The fact
that their guns have blanks, and the swamp rats do not take kindly to
their borrowing doesn't occur to them.
They are faced with people whose home has been invaded and have a whole
lot of tricks up their sleeve. City boys on maneuvers are no
competition for these folks.
Even when they finally reach civilization, they have to continue to
fight for their lives – and there are only two left! Exciting story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Walter Hill directs this interesting little film, about a small group
of National Guards who go on manoeuvres in the Louisiana swamp lands.
They get lost, tick off some locals and engage in battle with Cajun
The film attempts to be a commentary on the Vietnam war (the soldiers
steal from the locals and provoke their wrath in various ways), but
mostly the film eschews heavy themes in favour for capturing the sense
of collective disgust that the conflict brought to the American psyche.
This is a film which condemns trigger-happy troops, damns seemingly
benevolent leaders for immoral decisions (ie the theft of a canoe),
whilst praising the few good apples who got back home safely.
We've seen Stallone's "First Blood", John Boorman's "Deliverance" and
Arnie's "Predator", so this kind of "men in the jungle battling some
unseen evil" genre has a certain air of predictability. Nevertheless,
Walter Hill's direction is brilliant, the bayou landscapes rival
Terrence Malick and the first and last twenty minutes of the film are
Where the film differs from fare like "First Blood", "Predator" and
"Platoon" is the sheer impotency of its "macho" cast. The soldiers are
packing blank ammunition, ultimately lose the battle, can't come to
grips with their technologically inferior opponents, are overtly
aggressive to the point of stupidity, are stumped by language barriers,
are always leaderless, fail to realise that the "enemy" is merely
protecting his home, show contempt for the enemy's foreign culture and
are wholly unconcerned about the ramifications of their actions. In
other words, it's an apt allegory for the Vietnam war, though Walter
Hill is far too humble to admit this. Running through his filmography,
it becomes clear that Hill is less interested in "grand statements"
then in investigating how masculinity converges with myth, how
mythologies depend on a kind of stripped down, warped view of
Incidentally, John Ford's "The Lost Patrol" first brought this
archetypal story to cinema screens. In that film, a band of soldiers
get lost and have to fend off faceless Arabs.
8/10 More post Vietnam angst, the film taking place in 1973, the year
American pulled out of South-East Asia. Whilst the middle section is a
bit predictable, what eventually emerges is a pretty interesting
Worth one viewing.
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