'A Private War' shows the human side of conflicts across the world - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

The film A Private War follows the real life of Marie Colvin, a journalist who covered stories of war and conflict from ahead of the front lines in places from Iraq and Afghanistan to Sri Lanka and Syria, but its greater contribution may be the light it shines on the human cost of conflict.


‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Marie Colvin explains a point to her friend Paul Conroy in the 2018 film, A Private War.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

Spoiler alert: This article focuses on Marie Colvin and how the new movie illuminates her life and contributions, but it does contain some minor spoilers of the movie, including the nature of Colvin’s death and the accompanying scene in the film.

Colvin was famous for donning an eyepatch and wearing designer lingerie under her body armor, but among journalists, she was known for coverage that saved thousands of lives, telling the stories of those besieged by government forces under tyrants. In coverage from East Timor in 1999, she stayed behind when many other journalists fled, keeping the pressure on Indonesian Forces who were besieging 1,500 refugees in a U.N. compound.

Thanks to the efforts of Colvin and other journalists, U.N. personnel remained at the compound until the refugees were able to peacefully leave.

Now, Matthew Heinneman, himself a documentary filmmaker who has covered conflict in Syria, Mexico’s drug wars, and other places, has made a narrative film that aims to not only tell Colvin’s life to whoever might be interested, but also sheds light on the human stories Colvin worked so hard to tell.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Marie Colvin attempts to surrender to government forces in the 2018 movie, A Private War.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

“I really didn’t want to make this film as a traditional biopic,” Heinneman told WATM. “I wanted to make it more of a psychological thriller examining what pushes someone to go to these places, and then show the effect that it had on her. I wanted to examine what she suffered from. I wanted to examine PTSD. I wanted to examine all the sort of ramifications of what she saw and what she experienced.”

“At the same time,” he continued, “I also wanted to obviously highlight the work that she did and her effort in shedding light on these stories. I guess in another way, the film is a continuation of her work. Sadly and tragically, what she died covering, the conflict in Syria, has persisted until this day. And I think she would be devastated to know over half a million civilians have been killed since the conflict began. She probably would be in Idlib, or somewhere else right now covering the story if she were still alive.”

Colvin was tragically killed in Homs, Syria, in 2012.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Paul Conroy takes a photo of refugees during the 2018 movie A Private War.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

The movie really hits its stride when showing the plight of the vulnerable populations that Colvin covered. While Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dorman do a great job playing Colvin and Paul Conroy — Colvin’s longtime journalism partner — they both fade into the background as victims of government forces or insurgent strikes tell their stories to the journalists.

Heinemann credits this to the people he cast into these “roles.” He didn’t cast actors, he recruited actual refugees to tell the real stories of what they suffered at the hands of Bashir Al-Assad, ISIS, or others. These scenes were filmed in Jordan, a country allied with the U.S., which has accepted large numbers of refugees.

“In the film, [Colvin] is walking into a room filled with Syrian refugees. In real life, the two women that [Rosamund Pike] speaks to are real women from Homs, telling their own real stories and shedding their own real tears.”
‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Refugees huddle together in the 2018 movie A Private War. The filmmakers recruited actual refugees to play the parts of hunted populations in the movie.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

“It’s a really deeply emotional atmosphere on set,” he continued. “In another scene taking place in the hospital in Homs, a man brings his injured son after a mortar attack into the room. He also was from Homs. He was at a protest with his nephew who was shot off his shoulders and bled out in front of him.”

“The grief and the trauma that he brought into that room was almost unbearable. And it really created an atmosphere that felt both incredibly intimate and incredibly real that I think helped give the film the feeling that it has.”

One of the recurring events in the film is that Colvin goes into a combat zone to cover violent events, then heads back home to cities where people want to toast her for her accomplishments. This rapid, hacksaw motion between violent areas and parties is something many veterans can understand, and Heinemann used quick cuts between the two extremes to play up the difference.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Marie Colvin accepts an award for her coverage in the 2018 movie A Private War.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

“…those transitions in life are never that graceful, and so, editorially, artistically, stylistically sort of smashing in and out of those two worlds was something that was in the script, but definitely something we played with and discovered a lot in the editor room with our editor, Nick Fenton,” Heinemann said. Quick cuts allowed them to “sort of drop you in and out of these war zones in a way that makes you uncomfortable and disoriented and as it was her experience. As much as possible in this film, I tried to put you in her shoes.”

This focus on Colvin’s experience shifts in the final moments of the film when Colvin is killed by a government airstrike. In the movie, as in real life, Colvin is killed while trying to escape the city with Conroy and a French photographer, Remi Ochlick. Ochlick was also killed and Conroy was severely wounded, barely surviving a massive wound in his leg.

“Dealing with the final moments of her life was something that was quite obviously delicate and something that I ruminated over for many, many, many months.”

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlick, and Paul Conroy try to escape a Syrian government airstrike in A Private War.

(YouTube/Movieclips Trailers)

“Through Conroy’s face, we feel her loss so immensely.”

But Conroy’s grief slowly morphs into the grief for a lost city as the camera moves upwards.

“But also as we move away from her and as the camera lifts,” he said. “I wanted to show that she was just one person amidst a sea of devastation, and that yes her death was tragic, but so is all that she was covering.”

“I think journalism and journalists are under attack, obviously, as we’ve seen with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. When Marie Colvin started her career, the traditional dangers of being a journalist were that of being embedded with soldiers. It was being shot or being blown up by an IED or being hit by a mortar. It wasn’t that journalists were being targeted. And this, obviously, has changed over time.”

A Private War had a limited release on November 2. It has a much wider release, meaning it will likely be available near you, on November 16.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Apparently this is what it’s like to wear Batman’s batsuit

When Robert Pattinson was cast as the next Batman earlier this year, the internet did what it usually does when a new Batman is announced; freak out. But now, that the reality probably setting in for everyone that the former Twilight heartthrob is the next caped-crusader, what’s it going to be like? According to Pattinson himself, being Batman is apparently the best of times and the worst of times. Particularly for his ass.

On Sep. 3, 2019, Variety published a new interview with Pattinson in which the actor revealed, that yes he’s tried on the new batsuit and yes, it’s already changed his outlook on the world and that being in the iconic costume is “transformative.” Though, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get into the suit.


‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Robert Pattinson.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“It’s maybe the craziest thing I’ve ever done in terms of movie stuff,” the former teen-vampire said. “You do feel very powerful immediately. And it’s pretty astonishing, something that is incredibly difficult to get into, so the ritual of getting into it is pretty humiliating. You’ve got five people trying to shove you into something. Once you’ve got it on, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I feel strong, I feel tough, even though I had to have someone squeezing my butt cheeks into the legs.”

So, basically, if you want to be Batman, you have to get used to people shoving a bunch of rubber all over your ass and legs. But, according to Pattinson, it’s worth it.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This milspouse made the latest cut on ‘American Idol’

American Idol is back this year on ABC with Ryan Seacrest and new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. They’ve just announced the Top 24 and there’s a military spouse who’s made it this far in the competition.

Jurnee (just one name and she says it’s real) is an 18-year-old hostess from Denver, CO. Her wife, Ashley, serves in the U.S. Army.


Check out Jurnee’s audition video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01XhRdvPZxY

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After Hollywood Week, Jurnee learned she made it to the Top 24 and performed Never Enough for her Idol Showcase. Ashley, who’s soon to be deployed, made it to Los Angeles for the performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRMBMs6ZLPw

www.youtube.com

Longtime Idol viewers will notice the way that the producers are presenting her (ahem) journey means that they’re setting up Jurnee to have a long run on the show (if she continues to perform with the ability she’s demonstrated so far). We’ll be tuning in and following her progress in the weeks to come.

Articles

This documentary alleges the US purchased its space program from Yugoslavia

A new HBO documentary premiering this month claims the United States, desperate to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, purchased space technology from former Yugoslavia.


But how could an Eastern European Communist country defy the Soviets without their knowledge? The answer starts with Yugoslavia’s longtime leader, Josip Broz Tito.

Tito was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, becoming Austria-Hungary’s youngest Sergeant Major ever. He was captured by the Russians and helped the Red Guard take down the last Czar during the October Revolution. He would later become the leader of the most effective World War II resistance forces fighting Nazi occupation in Yugoslavia. After the war, he became a Communist dictator, but the only one free of Soviet influence.

Very adept at handling the Russians, Tito once wrote to Stalin: “Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle. If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.”

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Tito just might have made good on that promise.

In the early days of the Space Race, capturing the technology took money, power, and meant a large return for the ideology that got to the moon first. Once the USSR put the first satellite and then the man in space, the U.S. felt the sting of that early defeat.

A new film, called “Houston, We Have A Problem” alleges that the former Yugoslavia was a secret third player in the Space Race. The Yugoslavians made great technological leaps, based on the 1929 writings of Slovenian Rocket Engineer Herman Potočnik, whose book “The Problems of Space Travel” marked the first discussion of long-term human habitation in space, the first designs for space stations, and the importance of geostationary orbit. The documentary alleges Werner von Braun, the Nazi inventor of the V-2 Rocket and later the Saturn V Rocket for the United States, which carried the Apollo Program to the moon, received unpublished Potočnik diaries captured by Tito after Potočnik’s death.

Tito found the diaries in 1947. After conflicts with Stalin in 1948 where Tito asserted Yugoslav independence, Tito implemented the Yugoslav Space Program. By 1960, the film alleges, the CIA determined that Yugoslavia had developed operation space flight technology based on these writings. In March 1961, the film says Yugoslavia sold its complete space program to the United States. Just two months later, President John F. Kennedy gave the speech that announce the U.S. goal of reaching the moon within the coming decade.

The burst of growth in Yugoslavia following the 1960’s is supposed to be (from the filmmakers’ points of view) a result of the influx of currency from the sale of the space race technology. There could be other mitigating circumstances behind that rapid growth. One Canadian researcher believes that growth came the $47 billion in war reparations Yugoslavia received from the former Axis powers. The questions don’t stop there, however.

“The trailer draws a lot of links between events that may or may not have happened in some cases and connects the dots between a number of things that aren’t necessarily connected whatsoever,” Bill Barry, NASA’s Chief Historian, told Radio Free Europe. “There’s a lot of coincidence in time, but just because two things sort of happened one after the other does not necessarily mean that there’s causation involved. There’s a very big stretch involved here.” Barry does acknowledge the influence of Potočnik and his work, however.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Which he would probably appreciate if he didn’t die of pneumonia at age 36. Everything could kill you back then.

The film’s evidence also centers around “Object 505,” a secret Yugoslav Army post on the Croatia-Bosnian border that was Top Secret and inaccessible, even to the top Yugoslav Army brass. The film’s crew visits the still-mysterious installation in the film.

“It was very mysterious and one couldn’t enter it easily,” former Yugoslav Army officer and aviation Lieutenant Ivan Prsa told Radio Free Europe. “Only selected people could enter this underground facility and that’s why it is still unknown to the public.”

This is the director’s original trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97zg3B4eRv0

In an interview with Radio Free Europe’s Balkan Service, the film’s director, Ziga Virc, tried to downplay some of the more incredulous claims that made his film’s trailer an internet sensation.

“We are in the phase of gathering all the facts, but we still need a lot, a lot of confirmation. We still need a lot of documents and archive-gathering so we can confirm,” Virc said. “I would not like to be too sensational about this topic.”

“Houston, We Have a Problem” is listed by HBO as “docufiction… exploring the myth of the secret multi-billion-dollar deal behind America’s purchase of Yugoslavia’s clandestine space program in the early 1960s.” The film was screened at 2016’s TriBeCa film Festival and will be in select theaters in May 2016.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 superheroes who served in the Marine Corps

Anyone who has ever picked up a comic book knows that The Punisher is the embodiment of the Marine Corps; they share the same values and the same love for the smell of gunpowder. But there are plenty more heroes than just The Punisher. Here are the rest of the superheroes who have also earned their Eagle, Globe and Anchor.


 

1. Moon Knight (Marc Spectre) – Marvel

Often called Marvel’s poor and crazy Batman, Moon Knight is so much more than that. After serving in the Marines, Spectre joined the CIA, where he was sent on field missions around the world. On a mission in ancient Egyptian ruins, he was betrayed and found himself close to death. At the last moment, he is saved by an Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu.

Now Moon Knight is a silent guardian of New York City who only ever really teams up with the voices in his head. Maybe not a complete superhero, but still pretty damn cool.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

Moon Knight may not have Wayne money, but it’s not like Batman has magic powers. Oh, he does? Sometimes? …nevermind…

2. Green Lantern, one of the most famous superheroes – D.C.

Best known for his appearance in the Justice League cartoon, Stewart enlisted in the Marine Corps to get out of poverty in Detroit. Because of the purity in his heart, the Guardians of the Universe chose him to be the next Green Lantern from Earth.

He wasn’t the only human Green Lantern, but because of his leadership ability and clear head under stress (all thanks to the Marine Corps) he quickly became a key hero in the Justice League.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

 

3. Thunderbird (John Proudstar) – Marvel

Introduced in Giant Sized X-Men #1 alongside X-Men greats like Storm, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine, Proudstar wanted to prove himself as a warrior. The best way to test one’s ability as a warrior? By joining the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

Soon after his powers developed, he continued to fight and joined forces with Professor Xavier and the X-Men. Proudstar’s mutant abilities of superhuman strength, speed, and durability put him more in line with the U.S. Army’s Captain America than his mutant partners.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

4. War Machine (James Rhodes) – Marvel

A former pilot in the Marine Corps, Rhodes met Tony Stark (Iron Man) while he was still deployed to Vietnam. Stark needed help tracking down a supervillain Professor Yinsen but Rhodes was skeptical at first. Stark proved himself to the helicopter pilot and they both stopped Yinsen. Soon after, they became best friends.

There’s a bit of a discrepancy here. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yes, he’s an airman. But in the comic books, he’s always been a Marine. If I told you that a hero was named “War Machine” and had little understanding of ammo consumption, would you think he was an airman or a Marine?

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Totally what a Marine would do with a super-suit, lasers, and tons of bullets.

 

5. Maria Hill – Marvel

Shown time and time again, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, trusts no one – not even the superheroes. No one, except Maria Hill. Hill commissioned in the Marine Corps and soon grabbed the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Hill served as the second-in-command under Fury until after Marvel’s Civil War when she assassinated Captain America. But that’s okay because no one turns evil without a writer’s backdoor (controlled by Red Skull) and no one stays dead in comics (except Uncle Ben).

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

 

6. Azrael (Michael Lane) – D.C.

Created as a replacement for Batman after he got his back broken by Bane, Lane was once a Marine before becoming a police officer in Gotham City. As Azrael, he became an assassin wielding swords empowered by God himself.

Lane occasionally teams up with the Bat-family but often finds himself as an uneasy ally of Batman. They tend to fight over differing views of justice, very much like The Punisher and Daredevil; the Catholic Marine believes death is acceptable for the worst criminals while Batman would rather keep them in an easily escapable prison.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

 

7. The Punisher (Frank Castle) – Marvel

Of course, then there’s The Punisher himself.

Castle joined the Marines after dropping out of Priest school when he was asked if he could ever forgive a murderer. Because Marvel has a sliding timeline where they eventually stay away from dating themselves, Castle’s story changes every now and then to reflect modern real-world events.

Hands down, the most “Marine” story in The Punisher canon goes to Punisher: Born. Set in Vietnam, it is essentially the origin story of how Castle goes from being the gun-slinging bad ass Marines think they are to ACTUALLY being the gun-slinging bad ass Marines know they are. Fan theories speculate the narrator of the story is actually Ares, the Greek God of War, and he makes an unsuspecting Castle his avatar.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Then again, every Marine thinks they are personally the Avatar of War. I won’t stop them.

Articles

Special operators take the fight to the drug cartels in ‘Ghost Recon: Wildlands’ trailer

In the world of “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands,” the U.S. government has had enough of the shenanigans of the South American drug cartels and has dispatched their deadliest operators to kill the snake by cutting off its head.


The newly released trailer focuses on the tactics and capabilities of the “Ghosts,” Clancy’s fictional spec-ops creation and the subject of his games and novels dating back to 2001. So far, we know that “Wildlands” will allow small teams of players to fight in battlefields modelled after the Bolivian jungle.

Game developer Ubisoft Paris clearly wants to paint ‘Wildlands’ as a smarter alternative to more aggressive offerings from the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, and to that end the trailer showcases the Ghosts using an assortment of tactics and technology — stealth takedowns, scout drones, etc. — to overpower the cartels’ lethal enforcers.

Check out the trailer below:

MIGHTY MOVIES

Meet television’s most hunted former Navy SEAL

Joel Lambert spent ten years as a Navy SEAL and is now the star of the Discovery Channel’s “Lone Target” (called “Manhunt” outside the U.S.)


“In China, it’s called ‘Capture the Special Master,’ and that’s awesome,” Lambert says.

“Lone Target” pits Lambert and his survival and evasion skills against some of the world’s best trackers, from Maori warriors in New Zealand to the U.S. Army’s Phantom Recon unit in the Arizona deserts. He is inserted into the “Hunter Force Unit’s” area of control and must reach a designated extraction point within a certain amount of time.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world

“SERE [survival, evasion, resistance, escape] was something I enjoyed as a SEAL,” Lambert says. “The field craft, SERE, heavy weapons and explosives were the kind of things I gravitated towards and did a lot of training in.”

Before he trained with the Navy, Lambert actually did some acting.

“I had a background in commercials,” Lambert says. “I never thought this would ever be part of my life again. A friend of mine said he was putting a show together, looking for special operations guys with tracking and survival background. I went out there and saw they had guys from [the British] Special Air Service, Recon Marines, all these guys with specific skills sets. I thought, okay maybe this is more than just a guy trying to cobble together a pilot.”

He was right. “Lone Target” is a hit for the Discovery Channel. And what Lambert did next would change his life.

“I ran into the desert, built some booby traps, talked about tracking and tactics, the psychology of being hunted or hunting,” he says. “They offered me the gig and I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ My ego is at stake. I’m going to be wearing that trident on my chest whether I talk about it or not. I’m going to be representing all my brothers. It was a huge risk.”

“Those are exactly the reasons why I had to do it,” he laughs. “It was the most amazing experience.”

Lambert was caught three time out of six in the first season and only once the second.

“It’s a very hard thing, especially doing it in daytime so we can film and I have a camera guy with me,” he says. “All the things that are necessary to making the show handicap me, not the hunter force. At first I thought it was just unfair, but the more I thought about it, I was like, ‘You know what? It makes it even better because when I do get away because then I’ve really pulled some shit off.'”

A show with insurmountable odds each week is the perfect fit for a guy who joined the military just to be a SEAL. When he was ten years old his father introduced him to a friend who had just finished BUDS, and the young lad was taken with the stories about how challenging it was both physically and mentally.  That feeling stuck with him until he focused on getting in peak shape at age 22.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Basic Underwater Demolition/Seals students swim 100 meters with bound hands and feet as part of their first-phase swimming test. The test is used as a tool to examine how comfortable each student feels underwater. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle)

“I moved into this crackerbox studio apartment and started doing nothing but training because I wasn’t sure I had it in me physically,” Lambert says. “I woke up five in the morning, out there running five miles in boots, doing hundreds of push ups. I think it was a little over a year that I really dedicated everything in my life to training for BUDS.”

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
SEAL qualification training (SQT) students from Class 268 perform buddy carries between stations during a 36-round shooting test at Camp Pendleton. SQT is a six-month training course that all SEAL candidates must complete before being assigned to a SEAL team. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michelle Kapica)

But not everyone can be the subject of their own Discovery Channel show, so Lambert has a little advice for those whose military specialty doesn’t exactly have a civilian counterpart.

“I see these guys like Team Rubicon, they’re moving from swinging the sword to building the city,” he says. “Ryan Zinke, Montana Congressman, he’s moving from kicking in doors to leading and serving. Just because you’re not toting a weapon anymore doesn’t mean your path has ended. It’s there, you just keep moving forward.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

We have to talk about this week’s ‘SEAL Team’ death

WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Season 2 Episode 19.

This week, SEAL Team tackled one of the most dangerous threats to military veterans: suicide.

U.S. veterans have a higher suicide rate than civilians — and the number is staggeringly higher among female veterans. According to a 2016 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs, on average 20.8 service members commit suicide every day; of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active duty, guardsmen, or reservists.

Since 2001, the total number of fatal casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan is 6,995.

There were more than 6000 veteran suicides each year from 2008-2016 alone.

It’s a critical threat, one that must be acknowledged and addressed — which is why it’s important that shows like SEAL Team tell their stories.

According to ‘former frogman’ and SEAL Team writer Mark Semos, the suicide in the episode ‘Medicate and Isolate’ was inspired by the death of a real U.S. Navy SEAL.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwr-5VXnzA3/ expand=1]Mark Semos on Instagram: “For those of you who tuned into last night’s episode of @sealteamcbs: Brett Swann’s character was based on Ryan Larkin, a former SEAL who…”

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In the episode, Brett Swann (played perfectly by Tony Curran) struggles with many issues that are common among veterans — and he’s lucky enough to have a buddy helping him navigate the labyrinth of the VA system: long waits, over-taxed doctors, and confusing procedures are among the basics of what can be expected.

Swann is certain he has an undiagnosed TBI (traumatic brain injury) but the VA doctor is unable to treat it because there’s no proof that it is service-connected. A 45-minute episode isn’t long enough to get into the details of Swann’s options, so the writers deftly cut to the finish: Swann wasn’t going to get the treatment he desperately needed. Certainly not right away.

I can’t communicate strongly enough how disorienting and discouraging it is to finally seek help only to be turned away, especially for veterans, who were trained by the military to “suck it up.”

Some get lucky and find advocates (I highly recommend the DAV, a non-profit that, among other initiatives, helps veterans with disability claims), some patiently wade through the murky system, but others…

…well, it’s becoming painfully clear that others give up hope.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwp5pE8n0L0/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “It’s hard to promote tonight’s episode as it’s about a subject that is sadly more truth than fiction. Rather than entertain I hope that it…”

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Just this month, two more veterans died by suicide at VA facilities. So while the Department of Veterans Affairs does provide treatment for millions of veterans, the truth is that it isn’t enough.

For a country that spends more on its defense budget than the next seven countries combined (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan), it reflects the DOD’s priorities when VA hospitals and facilities don’t have the funds to meet the staffing and medical needs of its veterans.

There is hope

I have seen a trend where veterans are coming together to support each other, to maintain the strong community we had during service. As more and more veterans lose friends, the fear of talking about suicide is diminishing.

This is critical because veterans have to know where to turn for help.

There is a crisis hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (or anyone in need can send a text message to 838255)

There are organizations like 22KILL, which raises awareness and combats suicide by empowering veterans, first responders, and their families through traditional and non-traditional therapies.

And there are shows and films depicting these stories, raising awareness, and removing the stigma of unseen injuries and mental health.

There are many who are wary of sending the message that veterans are all traumatized or unstable; if anything, this episode is further proof of the opposite. SEAL Team employs a lot of veterans who are professionals in the entertainment industry.

Who better to tell the story of those among us who need our help?

Articles

Here’s the trailer for “Dunkirk,” the first war film from the guy who directed “The Dark Knight”

Christopher Nolan has now applied his moody and precise visual style on World War II. The “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” director tells the story of the “Miracle at Dunkirk,” a large-scale evacuation that saved approximately 338,000 Allied troops.


Related: This is how the ‘Miracle at Dunkirk’ saved World War II for the Allies

“Dunkirk” features frequent Nolan collaborator and “Mad Max: Fury Road” star Tom Hardy, Academy Award winner and “Bridge of Spies” star Mark Rylance, and Shakespeare master and robot-spider enthusiast Kenneth Branagh.

“Dunkirk” opens July 21, 2017. Watch the trailer below.

MIGHTY MOVIES

An exclusive interview with ‘The Liberator’ creator and Executive Producer, Jeb Stuart

Jeb Stuart has been a motion picture and television screenwriter, director and producer for over 30 years, and is widely considered one of the great action screenwriters in film history. His first film, Die Hard, was nominated for four Academy Awards and voted the Best Action Film of All Time by Entertainment Weekly (2007). In a 2012 New York Times Magazine article, Adam Sternbergh wrote: “As a genre, the American action film…produced one bone fide masterpiece, Die Hard.” In 1993, Stuart’s suspense thriller, The Fugitive, was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. During his career he has worked on over 50 feature and television projects, which have collectively grossed over $2.5 billion dollars worldwide. 

Presently, he is the creator and showrunner of two Netflix Original series, The Liberator, a World War Two drama slated for release in the fall of 2020 and Vikings: Vahalla which is currently in production in Ireland. Stuart is a WGA Best Screenplay Nominee as well as a two-time Edgar Allen Poe Nominee for best movie screenplay. He has received recognition for his writing from the American Film Institute and is a recipient of the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship, administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which he has been a member for over 25 years. Stuart received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.A. in Communications from Stanford University. He is a former member of the graduate faculty at Northwestern University, where he taught in the Writing for Stage and Screen Program. WATM had the chance to sit down with Stuart to hear more about The Liberator. 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
(A&E)

WATM: History is full of stories of courage and uncommon valor; how did this story grab your attention to decide that it must be made?

Stuart: The Liberator is based on the book written by Alex Kershaw. It was sent to me by Michael Lynne whose company Unique Features was working on a World War II project for the History Channel. I’m a huge reader, especially U.S. military history, and I thought this would be a great story for a couple of reasons: It deals with Italy primarily and it doesn’t get enough coverage in film and TV. It shows our troops learning to fight instead of the great battles such as D-Day and the French invasion that we know pretty well. 

The biggest issue for me, that I was really attracted to, was the diversity part of the story. That a group of native Americans, White cowboys and Mexican Americans could be brought together in an integrated unit in WWII. That really got my attention. The idea that Felix Sparks, a back-office 2nd lieutenant, who works his way up to Lt. Colonel over the course of 500 days is a pretty compelling story within itself. It’s a survivor story and of terrific leadership. That was the start and there was a lot after that but that drew my interest in the story.

WATM: What was your favorite character-building moment in the story?

Stuart: That’s a great question, Ruddy. You know, there are so many moments like that. I think my favorite moments are when the men are really having to pull together in combat situations. Anzio comes to mind, I wanted to tell a story that can show G.I.s under artillery. For most people watching this [war series], I was wondering if there was a way to capture the terrifying aspect of being in a foxhole under bombardment for minutes by the German 8.8 [cm] artillery that was just fearsome. 

We were able to do that with Trioscope. What it would feel like is not knowing where a shell would come down, then having American artillery corresponding, going over your head and raining down on your position in order to complete the task – guard the only road into Anzio. Should the Germans capture it, they would have a blank check to move support vehicles and tanks into Anzio. They probably would have driven the Allies back into the sea. 

So, this one unit is tasked with holding that road. An incredibly complex task that they should have been overwhelmed by. By pulling the chain as they do in episode two, by putting their own artillery down on themselves, they were able to stop the German advance long enough for the Americans to have a grasp on Anzio and counterattack. 

They did win the Presidential Unit Citation Award, which at the time was pretty new. Very few units have ever received that. That’s my favorite character-building moment for the series. 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
(A&E)

WATM: Warfare is organized chaos, while in production, what was a moment that you experienced your team pulling together and getting the mission done?

Stuart: In that same episode after the Anzio battle, Spark’s unit had to move into a series of places called The Caves. Where these rag tagged pieces of units that were still left, took refuge in this circular mound that they had done more excavation. It was probably more of a mine than a cave and there were civilians in there. 

For me, that was the place where they gathered up. Having to recreate this, the audience will see a functioning Trioscope. Trioscope is a hybrid type of animation – we shot the show on a blue screen. When we cast out there, things like leaving the cave and going out into this bombardment under machine gun fire, all have to be imagined by the actor. It calls upon the actor to bring more to the table otherwise it’s just not going to have the feel. What we did a lot of the time is that Grzegorz Jonkajtys, our director, and L.C. Crowley, our producer back in Atlanta, they would put ear pieces into the soldier’s ears that they would pump in machine gun fire from the right or explosion is coming in or you hear the whistle of incoming shells.

After a couple of takes, Ruddy, (laughs) it doesn’t take long for an actor to suddenly start thinking ‘where is that coming from? How am I going to react?’ and they would react naturally. If a shell is coming you just get down, if a foxhole is available you get in, especially when it’s 20 feet from you. 

It’s incredibly disorienting for the actor, as it should be, as you’ve said organized chaos. It should shock you; it should surprise you. That fight or flight instinct and adrenaline pumping in and you react that way. I think it was an extremely successful experiment that worked for us. 

WATM: The military audience is always hungry for more, more, and more. They will watch content a million times over and always ask ‘what’s next?’

 Stuart: I am hoping what you’re saying is a follow up to The Liberator using Trioscope in another conflict such as WWI, Gulf War, Vietnam.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
(A&E)

WATM: Yes, absolutely.

Stuart: It is great for this type of format. I hope we can do an anthology series which would be fun because trioscope allows us to recreate great battles, great units, great servicemen, great stories like that. You obviously need the great assets that go only with it like terrific directors and great animators. If you think of WWI and WWII, none of those tanks and planes really operate or exist today outside of museums and private collections. 

You couldn’t mount a show of any scale like you could in the 50’s and 60’s like Dirty Dozen or along those lines. You couldn’t do those kinds of things without recreating [vehicles] from scratch. This is an opportunity to find great soldier stories and tell them in a very convincing, authentic way through Trioscope, A+E Studios and School of Humans, and I have been in talks about what we can do together.

WATM: Is there anything that you would like to say to the military audience?

Stuart: The one thing I would like to really tell your audience at We Are The Mighty is that The Liberator has a terrific message but also just great entertainment. It’s the type of thing where everybody who is involved thought it was a very special project. It tells an important part of our military history. 

The veterans I’ve talked to, not just Vietnam veterans – my father was a WWII veteran, veterans of the Gulf War and such; the mental endurance that’s required to get through something like that are just as important today as they were 75 years ago. I think there is a lot of resonance in the story and we’re excited about it, we’re proud of it, and I hope people will tune in and watch it.The Liberator Premieres Veterans Day November 11, 2020 on Netflix.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch the trailer for Bruce Willis’ crazy sci-fi film ‘Cosmic Sin’

Bruce Willis stars with Frank Grillo (The Grey, Captain America: Civil War) in a new explosions-in-space film called Cosmic Sin

Set in 2542, 400 years after humans colonized other planets, Willis plays a retired military general who is called back into service after a hostile alien threat with the power to infect and take over human bodies attacks a remote planet. Willis teams up with Grillo and a team of elite soldiers to face off against the alien fleet.

Written by Corey Large and Director Edward Drake (who co-wrote Breach, another sci-fi feature starring Willis), Cosmic Sin also stars Adelaide Kane, Luke Wilson and Lochlyn Munro. This of course isn’t Bruce Willis’ first sci-fi or even space rodeo. The action star is known for his work in The Fifth Element, Looper, 12 Monkeys, and, of course, Armageddon. 

Cosmic Sin comes to theaters, On Demand, and On Digital on March 12, 2021.


bruce willis cosmic sin poster
Articles

The legendary rock band KISS has surprising roots from World War II

The legendary rock band Kiss is known for their makeup, over-the-top stage show, and hits like “Rock ‘n Roll All Night” and “Detroit Rock City.”


They aren’t known as historians, although two of the band’s members — Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer — have remarkable stories to tell about what their families went through during World War II. And equally remarkable is how these stories link the two members of Kiss to each other.

Backstage at a Kiss concert in northern Virginia in late July, lead guitarist Tommy Thayer talked about his father’s military service. James B. Thayer retired as a brigadier general in the mid-60s, but in 1945 he was an first lieutenant in charge of an anti-tank mine reconnaissance platoon that made its way across France into southern Germany. The unit saw a lot of action, including battles with Waffen SS troops – among the Third Reich’s most elite fighters – that involved bloody hand-to-hand combat.

As the platoon made its way farther south they stumbled upon the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. “The SS had just fled,” Tommy Thayer said. “They left behind 15,000 Hungarian-Jewish refugees who were in bad shape.”

Ironically enough, based on time and location, among the refugees that U.S. Army Lieutenant Thayer liberated was most likely a family from Budapest that included a teenage girl who would later give birth Gene Simmons, Kiss’ outspoken bassist and co-founder.

“My mother was 14-years-old when they took her to the camps of Nazi Germany,” Simmons explained. “If it wasn’t for America, for those who served during World War Two like James Thayer, I wouldn’t be here.”

As a result of this connection, the band has thrown its clout behind the Oregon Military Museum, which will be named in honor of the now 93-year-old Brigadier General Thayer. Tommy Thayer is on the museum’s board, and the band recently played at a private residence in the greater Portland area to raise money and awareness for the effort.

“The idea that Americans enjoy the kind of life that the rest of the world is envious of is made possible – not by politicians – but by the brave men and women of our military,” Simmons said. “The least we could do is have a museum.”

“There is evil being done all over the world,” Simmons said. “And the only thing that keeps the world from falling into complete chaos is our military.”

Beyond supporting the Oregon Military Museum, in the years since 9-11, Simmons has worked as a military veteran advocate. Among some of his more high-profile efforts is the band’s hiring of veterans to work as roadies for Kiss on tour.

While other celebrity vet charities could rightly be criticized as something between Boomer guilt and vanity projects, the bass guitarist’s desire to help vets is fueled by what his mother’s side of the family went through to make it to America a generation ago.

Simmons has a few things to say about national pride, something he thinks the country has lost a measure of.

“When I first came to America as an eight-year-old boy people were quiet when the flag was raised,” Simmons said. “We all stood still.”

To Simmons’ eye that respect is lacking in too many Americans now, particularly younger Americans who are surrounded by information and media but may not appreciate the relationship between history and their daily lives.

“Just stop yakking for at least one minute,” he said. “The rest of the day is all yours to enjoy all the benefits that the American flag gives you.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 reasons being a Star Wars rebel soldier sucks

The Star Wars train is still rolling along and the toy shelves are filled with those freaking adorably annoying porgs (as a true Star Wars fan, I personally hope that they don’t become the new Jar-Jar).


 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Who was really the new Ewoks, who were really just vermin, despite what my editor thinks.

 

A while back, we touched on the downside of being a Stormtrooper and why they have it worst. Now, let’s look at why the rebels are a very close second.

Related: 6 Reasons why it would suck to be a Stormtrooper in Star Wars

In the The Force Awakens, Finn left the previously mentioned terrible First Order and joined the Resistance, a successor to the Rebellion in all but name. The poor guy doesn’t even know that he just traded one terrible assignment for another.

At least Stormtroopers had a few things going for them, such as armor, reliable gear, force of numbers…

The rebels out “fighting the good fight” had next to nothing in nearly everything.

Here’s why it sucks to be a rebel:

1. Very little funding…

Good will can take you a long way against an evil empire, but you still need financing.

Those blasters aren’t just going to buy themselves. Historically, rebellions (in our galaxy) have been financed via a combination of three sources: Other governments, wealthy sympathizers, or outright stealing what they needed.

There aren’t really many options for the Rebel Alliance as far as governments or sympathizers go. When the Galactic Empire called themselves the Galactic Empire, they meant it. Nearly every government in the galaxy fell underneath Emperor Palpatine’s control.

You can’t just turn to the Hutt-controlled space in the Outer Rim for financing because scum and villainy just don’t care about noble causes. The rebels did have an extremely wealthy donor in Bail Organa (Princess Leia’s adoptive father)…but he and his wealth were destroyed on Alderaan.

So, if you estimate the Earth’s total combined wealth at $241 trillion in 2014 and multiply that by the god-knows-how-many planets under the Empire’s control, do you think it’s possible to steal enough stuff to stand a reasonable chance against an enemy that rich?

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Who knows? Maybe this dude was just THAT freaking loaded.

 

2. …which means little gear and training.

The Stormtroopers had acclimatizing suits that were designed to stop blaster shots. The rebels wore…blue shirts and vests. The Stormtroopers had a blaster rifle that works as a machine gun, rifle, and sniper rifle. The rebels stole a few of the same. The Empire had massive fleets of TIE fighters and pilots at their disposal. The Rebels had outdated X-Wings with only a handful of pilots.

And it keeps going on.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
These guys were screwed before Darth Vader showed up.

 

3. They’re painted as the villain – because some are.

The problem with being the Rebel Alliance was that it was loosely-formed from many rebels doing their own thing. This was most prominent during the events of Rogue One, where the rebels struggled to keep Saw Gerrera from giving the wrong impression of what the rebellion means.

Related: This is why Rogue One’s Saw Gerrera was basically bin Laden

It’s not too clear how the average citizen of the Galactic Empire feels about the rebellion. The closest we get in the films is when Luke talked about joining the Imperial flight program, and no one reacted as if the Imperials were the bad guys.

Albeit, their opinions did change after the destruction of Alderaan.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
You can’t convince me that this scene in Rogue One was not ripped directly from a regular day in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

4. Little to no chain of command.

Sure, the pilots get fancy pep talks and are often given commands, but that barely constitutes good advice, let alone a real military order.

Take the Battle of Hoth, for instance. One of the three major rebel bases was under attack and needed to be evacuated. The duty of making sure everyone made it out alive fell entirely on the shoulders of a princess who hadn’t demonstrated any military capabilities until that point.

There were actual generals there, and yet her plan to fly weaponless transport ships full of high ranking officers directly at the enemies didn’t raise a red flag to anyone.

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Literally an infinite amount of directions to chose from, but nah. Let’s risk it.

 

Even still, most rebels just acted on their own free will rather than having some actual military decorum. What would you expect from a chain of command that was literally made up of six officer ranks?

Which leads us to…

5. Rank makes no sense.

Case in point: Han Solo. A man who laughed at the Rebellion eventually gave in and helped his new friend. He flew in at the last minute, shot out Darth Vader’s TIE fighter, and earned a medal from the Princess. Got it. It makes some sense to why he’d become Captain Solo by the time of the Battle of Hoth.

We can forgive the battlefield commission/promotion to Captain, even if he wasn’t nearly as much help as Skywalker. The real concern is how he got promoted to General before the Battle of Endor. He didn’t really do anything but fly around space before being captured on Cloud City and imprisoned in carbonite.

When he was released and reunited with the Rebel forces, he was automatically granted the rank of General.

 

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Eh. If it works…

In the U.S. military, POWs are promoted with their contemporaries while captured and we stretch things in Star Wars to assume it worked the same way. But seriously? Did enough captains get promoted to general in the span of a year to warrant Han being promoted that quickly?

6. No recognition.

All of that can be explained away as the fighting spirit of the rebellion. Sure, they terrible gear, inexperienced leaders, and wacky organization, but at least you could hold true to the knowledge that they were doing what was right. Too bad the “Empire” turned into the “First Order.”

But your contemporaries will remember you? Right?

Nope. All of that glory went to some civilian contractor (Luke), a seriously unqualified General (Han), and the inexperienced (though highly motivated) adopted daughter of the guy who pays the bills (Leia).

‘A Private War’ shows the human side of conflicts across the world
Fighting in the rebellion is so stressful that the dude with the beard is actually 36.

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