Combine Kevin Bacon with an amazing storyline based on an acclaimed short story based deep in real life and you have yourself a tearjerker. This is a movie that will make women cry and men, real men, either cry (secretly) or wipe their eyes claiming “allergies”. During this movie, I have MANY allergies.
This is not a movie about love. Not clear love. It is a movie about death, death in combat, suffering, loss, tragedy. A solider dies in Iraq and his body is transported from Baghdad to his final resting place in the USA. This is a movie about the dead soldier, PFC Chance Russell Phelps. None of us know him, none of us ever heard of him.
His body is the focal point of all human reactions. Reactions that make you THINK, PONDER, CRY.
This is a movie made regardless of war’s multiple sides – the enemies and good guys, heroes and villains. It is a movie about ultimate death, sacrifice for an ideological ideal and the suffering of normal people left behind to… live through the death/sacrifice.
Initially, you watch it to see the progress of the body. Taking Chance. Action on the battlefield, his trauma, death. Battle hospital. Diagnosis. Death = body. Incomplete body. Transport. Rammstein AFB (USA base in Germany), cleaning of body, progress. Body arrives in USA, undergoes the next stage of cleaning, analysis. You see the RESPECT offered to fallen soldiers by medical staff who NEVER met/knew the Fallen (with a capital F). And then you see the system for taking a body of a fallen soldier to his home. What other form of respect is there?
And the miracles begin. The accompanying officer getting upgrades at the airlines. Baggage staff respecting the coffin, pilots asking for passengers to WAIT until the coffin-accompanying-hero disembarks, lines of people saluting the (unknown)coffin. The pilot of a regional flight remembering the name of EVERY fallen hero he ever carried. The love, attention and devotion of every citizen that had the honour of witnessing the final journey of a fallen soldier. The little signals along the way make you think about love, honour, duty, service, sacrifice. Survivor guilt.
You see a motion picture and understand that in a good country, the Fallen are revered, respected, loved. They are Fallen FOR the nation. Nothing else matters. All sins, mistakes, errors, inadequacies, are GONE. You (they) died for the nation. All is forgotten, but your courage.
I am not a Marine. But I can only say (by claiming the right to the IMPOSSIBLE): Chance Phelps, you are remembered, because your final journey is so deep and powerful that, regardless of nation-state, YOU HAD AN IMPACT. Greater after your death, but an awesome impact nonetheless.
This is a movie for your darker evenings, when you need to be alone. You, your soul and a good bottle of expensive whiskey.
Rest in Peace, Pvt Phelps = @IMDB.
Semper Fidelis. Because none of us, outside the Marine Core, have the right to say “Semper Fi”.
Quote: “If you knew more soliders like PFC Chance Phelps, the world would not need the Marine Core.” Can there be a better admission/salute?
The movie shows us, normal people, that WE MEAN SOMETHNING, even in death. REMEMBER THAT.
And remember – PFC Chance Russell Phelps, USMC, 1984-2004.