Laremy Legel January 21, 2009
We are, at our societal core, a nation of symbols. Powerful symbols and ceremony emphasize what it is to be an American. The flag, a Marine’s medals, the twenty-one gun salute, these symbols and ceremonies are far more powerful than words or the politics of the day. And because they appeal to our emotional side they hit us at a far different place than the rote war film or an expose on political failings. This is the simple brilliance behind Taking Chance, a film that takes us away from the politics and focuses more on the little things and the consequences of death in our culture. In this case, the focus and precision add up to a very impressive movie.
Taking Chance is a film that deals with the transport of PFC Chance Phelps to his final resting place. Kevin Bacon is the Colonel charged with escorting the casket home to Colorado. He volunteers for the duty to work his own issues out, but the film underplays the melodrama, instead letting the stoic traditions of the Marine Core carry the message.
That message, to my mind, is apolitical. The film doesn’t tackle whether or not we should be in Iraq. The film deals with grief, and how a nation copes with losing young sons and daughters. It’s a worthy effort because it doesn’t take a side. It merely shows the fallout. I think this film should be mandatory for world leaders. It shows the gaping hole a death leaves in a community, and it takes pains to point how ordinary people are affected by a symbol as powerful as a flag-draped casket.
The fact is that death is an unarguable aspect of life. How we deal with it, and the mechanisms we use to convey the importance of individuals says a lot about who were are as a people. This is a very somber and sad film, but a great one too. It will be on HBO in February and I’d encourage others to give it a watch and join in the discussion. We’ve had so many preachy films in the past five years — it’s nice to see one that simply presents a true story. Putting a face on the war has been something sorely lacking in our film community. This is probably because it’s much easier to pontificate than to feel, but thankfully Taking Chance takes the harder, and far more worthy road.
Categories: ReviewsTags: Kevin bacon, Taking chance