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Passing Glory

 

The film opens with a swarm of US helicopters moving through the jungles of Vietnam. Then as napalm begins to fall into the treeline below, classical music fills the air. The unit's commander proclaims "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." The movie focuses on one American who dissapeared into the jungles of Vietnam many years back. It is believed that he is still alive and has achieved a cult like following among the native people. One man is dispatched on a mission to locate him. Finally he is found after much searching. Resorting to an almost subhuman level of existance he lives for one thing, to kill the North Vietnamese enemy. He is far from the point of sanity, in that place that few soldiers ever in their worst nightmares imagine being in. A killer, a savage, a man that lives to control and conquer rather than to help or liberate. He is a loose cannon in the jungle. In the film's end he attempts to explain who he is and why he has done the things he has. He is stabbed in the end, killed by the soldier sent to bring him back or end his madness. War is madness to many, and this film showcases that theme. Embodied in one man is the heart of madness and the essence of war. Only within men is the world's true great "Apocolypse" found to exist. In this movie that great Apocolypse was found in the jungle, among the animals, and the savages, in the place where fear dare not to approach and man hopes never to come near
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This movie presents the perspective of the average French soldier during trench warfare in WWI. Stephen Douglas (father of Michael Douglas) plays a field commander of French ground forces during their times in the trenches. Orders to attack or withdraw are given from Generals far from the front who have no knowledge of the nature of things on the front. When the order is given for the French to come out of the trenches and storm the Germans, one man is knocked unconcious in his trench by an artillery shell. As the movement forward proceeds it becomes obvious that there is no way that French forces can take, let alone hold German positions if they take them. Men fall back and later French commanders deem that cowardice was the reason that the attacked failed. Stephen Douglas is asked to pick a few men to stand trial for the cowardice present in his unit. One man was the guy knocked unconccious during the battle. A kangaroo court ensued and all the men were pronounced guilty of treason and sentenced to die. One of the accused was unconcious from battle wounds. He was carried onto the place of execution on a stretcher. His eye lids were flipped open to give the appearance that this was a man killed in a state of conciousness. The movie ends with a captured German girl singing before a group of French soldiers. Rather than scorn or hate this female from the enemy's land the soldiers embrace her and in so doing embrace their humanity. Passing Glory is in many ways a movie of past glory that few have heard of. But the movie does speak to the root cause of war which often is Generals and political figures with little memory of war plunging their nations head first into its horrors.

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