Awards season is hotting up, with many films impressing at Telluride, Toronto and Venice. Slowly but surely we are getting a picture of what films are looking to impress at the Oscars, with La La Land currently leading the pack. The next one to watch is Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk — directed by Ang Lee and boasting Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and Vin Diesel in its cast — which will debut at the New York Film Festival on October 14th. Check out the trailer below:
Halftime Walk concerns an Iraqi veteran who upon surviving a blistering battle on the frontline is paraded around the USA as a hero. However, as the film progresses, we learn that the truth is a much different, and Billy Lynn is harbouring quite contrasting feelings towards the war. Here's hoping it does for the Iraq War what Born On The Fourth Of July did for the Vietnam war, and forces the government to spend more resources on helping veterans. Yet the all-important question is:
Is 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' Based On A True Story?
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is not based on a true story; instead it is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ben Fountain. Veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other wars, have shown various different response to the war, ranging from rage and anti-government invective to helplessness and even despair.
Due to the recent wars, as well as the existing veterans from Vietnam, the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) is constantly over-logged with people applying to get the help they so desperately need. The effect on a veteran's mental health is vast: estimates reckon that there are around twenty veterans committing suicide a day. Fountain was inspired by veteran's coming home when he wrote the book, seeing how people's perspectives had changed:
Here at Movie Pilot we have assembled a couple of stories from vets who upon signing up for the Iraq war for patriotic reasons have come back with quite the opposite opinion of the conflict. These could be key inspirations when we finally see Halftime Walk hit the screens come October.
A sniper in the army similar to Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame, he had quite a different response to what he perceived as the xenophobic feelings the film had stirred up. He writes that his PTSD came from being:
"a perpetrator of violence and death. My actions in combat would have been more acceptable to me if I could cloak myself in the belief that the whole mission was for a greater good."
As time went by, he questioned the whole reason for the Iraq war in the first place:
"The destruction I took part in suddenly intersected with news that our reasons for waging war were untrue."
He offers the caveat that this is only his perspective, and that other veteran's perspectives differ, but that these feelings are understandable given that there were no weapons of mass destructions and those primarily responsible for 9/11 had no connection to Iraq. What he calls for is a diversity of different perspectives on the war so we can make better sense of it.
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Tomas Young, like many men, signed up to join the army two days after 9/11, in order to "exact some form of retribution" upon those who started the war. However, a mere five days after arriving in Iraq, he was shot in the back, paralysing him. He became a member of Iraq Veterans Against The War and campaigned for it to end. As he was slowly dying, he penned an open letter to George Bush and Dick Cheney that indicted their decisions for invading the country:
"You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole."
He traces the Iraq war to the current instability in the region, calling the war illegal and a mistake:
"The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East."
Additionally, he uses the letter to criticise:
"the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician"
It seems that regardless of whether or not the invasion of Iraq was just or not, there is no excuse for the American government to remain so incompetent when it comes to providing the correct medical service to those who have served in the Iraq war. Its all well and good to call somebody a hero, but its better to make sure they have the physical and mental support they need in order to make the transition back to domestic life easier. Maybe Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk will help to change people's opinions of returning vets and help them to get better resources to cope with having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Are You Excited To See Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk?