Sunday, August 07, 2005

Gardens of Stone

Was out shopping yesterday and picked up a copy of the movie Gardens of Stone, based on a novel by Nick Proffitt that I'd read when I was younger. It's not bad; as a writer, if I've read a book prior to watching the movie adaptation, I have this visual picture of what the characters look like and what scenes should look like because I've already imagined the scene, and by and large, it's a faithful adaptation. Both the book and the movie are named for the "Gardens of Stone" that make up Arlington Nat'l Cemetary, and tell the story of the Army unit detailed to do ceremonial burials, "the Old Guard", during the Vietnam era through the eyes of a seasoned sargeant and a young, idealistic officer assigned to the unit, who is later sent overseas and rapidly becomes disillusioned by his experience.

As a movie, I think it captures most of what Proffitt was trying to say about Vietnam and war in general: that we stereotype our enemies, the people who oppose the war, and the people who defend us, and we also romanticize the entire notion of going off to war while failing to acknowledge what it really is (something that Twain did as well in his short story "The War Prayer"). The reality, as Proffit notes, is that wars cause deaths, and as his narrator, Pfc. (later 2nd Lt.) Willow comments: "We lost three good ones yesterday ... it's always the good ones, isn't it?"

I saw that there's a new "reality TV" series about serving overseas in the Middle East ... it makes me wonder how future generations will view our war on terrorism. Will it be seen through the lens of reality TV, or, as with Vietnam, will they take the time to pause and reflect, decades afterward?