Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Tigerland" (2000) - Movie Review

Private Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell) is the messiah of civil disobedience in the platoon put in the training camp of “Tigerland”. The training camp of Fort Polk, Louisiana is the pre-Vietnam drafting to get the feel for the foliage, dirt and some live rounds of bullets slicing the branches near the ears of the soldiers. It is “Platoon” in the US soil but Joel Schumacher’s film has the set for it in its own form of treatment. It bounces on smarty remarks and the light heartedness carried by the protagonist where the authority is blindly respected and feared. The loyalty and honour are worn as the badge in the hearts of soldiers. Patriotism runs high on the weeds of fanaticism.

Fresh out of a conduct punishment, Bozz joins the platoon going for the eight week training camp before heading to the war field. Bozz is a good soldier actually a great soldier but he would not obey the rules. He would cross over the line of passes and in the process pick up ladies and get along his new friend Paxton (Matthew Davis) too for good times. Informed as well on the loop holes of the military system, Bozz does not want to die in a rainy muddy place left to rot in it. That adamant behaviour not alone makes him the target for the military commanders but a special hatred from a fellow comrade named Wilson (Shea Wigham) taking special IVs for god, love and country every morning.

In 1971 with the war getting unpopular as the War on Iraq is going through now, as Bozz many are well aware of the lies they have been talked into for fighting. As any free spirited person we see him talk less about the politics and more about the individual preference he has unlike Paxton. Paxton on the other hand despite the reality feels the necessity to fight for his country. As the friendship grows we see Paxton beginning to come on the same plane of thought as Bozz. But Bozz as clearly he sounds on this getting out of the army does not put that much effort he does for couple of his other soldiers to get out. He says, “I am not brave enough” and that means the courage to hurt him. In fact in a drunken night both of them try so hard to do that and know they would not do it. The body and mind are tangled in the suffering rather than the unknown suffering coming in the real war.

The military is in catch-22. They hate Bozz and they would not want him here before he deports every soldier from his platoon. But taking him out is what exactly he wants. They are not able to scare him or make him fear at all. When a Sergeant says “I am going to kill’ya”, he replies back “No, you might do many things but not kill me” and runs off lighting his cigarette and coolly asking the Sergeant whether he has a first name. They share a brief honest interaction which is one of many great scenes in the film.

The hate Private Wilson develops for Bozz is hard to categorize. He feels the necessity to discipline Bozz for the sake of his country but soon that turns into a personal battle. Every time Wilson comes up with a profanity to embarrass Bozz, it back fires because Bozz does not give a damn. There is a famous line from a film or may be it is from a quote saying that a person who has nothing to lose would be the bravest and happiest. Bozz is the man but he has lot of things to lose as he is making friends.

Any kind of fanaticism begins to murk the line of logic. The purpose of war in any time seems tragic but what is the best way to deal an attack? Keeping apart from the Vietnam and Iraq what would have been if World War – II did not happen leaving Hitler to continue his holocaust? What are the rules of engagement? In the film “Hey Ram”, there is a spectacular argument of one head of the Hindu extremist in convincing the protagonist to get into their side saying “Kolai Kutramna, Yuthamum Kutram” meaning if killing is wrong than war is wrong too. Funny that he uses the line to convince his practice of religious fanaticism. The context and tone of course makes more sense to the lead man in the film to get into the organization. War can never be right. It would win something with a lot more coming in the later part to extend it endlessly.

“Tigerland” says what “Jarhead” later took the concept in a dark comic satire. “Tigerland” fixes the character of Bozz to be its philosopher. It carries this person where in the plain sheet of country and freedom would be said as the traitor and coward. Yet Bozz is the best soldier they have in the platoon. The head of the camp says “You are pissing your life away” and Bozz in rage replies back “I do not need killing and war to say that”. Tigerland is one of the best films I have watched lately.

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