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Eastwood’s Unreciprocated Love of the Military

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Clint Eastwood has a thing for war. More specifically, he has a knack for relating the effects of battle on character. His 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers deconstructed a mythic symbol of patriotism to reveal the severe dysfunction behind it. In the same year, Letters From Iwo Jima painted a sympathetic portrait of a Japanese general defending a hopelessly indefensible position.

But before either of those war epics, Eastwood was celebrating the male-bonding that’s so central to being a soldier. With Heartbreak Ridge, his 1986 war pic about the invasion of Grenada, Eastwood plays a seasoned sergeant leading a platoon of the Marine equivalent of D students. This is Clint at his very best: a grizzled commander who growls more
than he screams, and inspires more integrity than rebellion. I probably don’t need to tell you that his troop doesn’t stay a group of D students for long.

Given the film’s unabashed patriotism and aggrandized depictions of honor, it’s a wonder that both the Army and the Marines disavowed any association with it. When the Army refused to participate, Eastwood made the unpopular decision to inaccurately base the story on the Marines. When the Marines pulled out, he simply through up his hands. Their loss.

Why either branch of the military wouldn’t want to associate themselves with Heartbreak Ridge is a mystery. Check it out for yourself tonight Friday, February 15 at 8PM | 7C on AMC.

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