2004 - United States - 102 minutes
Director and Writer - Robert Clem from the novel by William March
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
Today is Memorial Day 2008 and there's lots of talk on television and elsewhere about the sacrifice of soldiers in Iraq. In my opinion, those young women and men are giving their lives and their mental stability to an unnecessary cause created to satisfy the ego of a madman. But what about the soldiers in the Great War, the War to End All Wars - World War I? Those soldiers are the subject of Company K.
William March was the penname for William Edward Campbell who, in 1933, published Company K which was hailed as a masterpiece by critics and writers alike and has been referred to as the American view of the hopelessness and brutality - just as effective and shattering as Erich Maria Remarque's classic anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front. March was a popular novelist and story writer of the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Today, his most well-know novel is The Bad Seed.
March was a reclusive man who was hard to get to know. He suffered a number of nervous breakdowns - as they were called in his day - that were surely post traumatic stress episodes due to his experiences as a Marine in WWI. He died from a series of heart attacks in 1954 at the height of his writing career.
The soldiers in Company K are not the great generals and leaders whose names have gone down in history but are the grunts who actually did the fighting and dying. They are not great heroes but just young men who are trying to survive the madness into which they have been injected. They are not idealized or romanticized. Some do bad things. Some are so scared they run. Some carry out insane orders. Some carry out inhumane orders. Most of those who survive go home to lead normal lives, but there are some who are never able to remove from their minds the horrors of deeds seen or deeds done.
The film, Company K is not a great production. It's episodic but in a very choppy way. Is that the fault of the director or the editor? Who knows? But within each episode, the viewer is offered a realistic view of these young men caught in circumstances beyond their control. There is no glory - only guts.
There are no well-known actors in this film. All are just good actors who do a good job at showing us all of the aspects of these men thrown together into the snake pit of battle.
There are uncountable films about women and men in war. Some are extraordinary while some are really bad. Company K falls somewhere in the middle and it is surely worth a viewing in order to get to know some very human men.
May 26, 2008