Friday, March 7, 2008

We Live In The Valley of Elah

Last night I watched the film In the Valley of Elah and have been haunted ever since. This is an important film on so many levels. The reason I'm writing about it here is more than it being a strong commentary about the Iraq war or how young men can so easily be shaped into killing machines or even about a father's search about what happened to his soldier son, when the young man goes AWOL after having returned to the States.

For me, the level that strikes me the hardest is that this is an exploration about what is so wrong about how boys are brought up overall in our culture. The focus on the military is incredibly provocative and worthy of comment but it's just too easy to dismiss to say that this is only a military issue. This is really only an extreme example of how kids are brought up these days in our culture. And what makes the film so telling to me is that if Tommy Lee Jones' character hadn't been the type of father he was, his son would be alive now. So much of this is wrapped around the relationships between fathers and sons, specifically regarding the level of emotional openness and physical interaction between them. It completely plays into the larger issues about how much of an impact dads can have or not, based on these things.

So, Evo Dad recommends In The Valley of Elah. Beyond being an important critique of American foreign policy, it's a great cautionary tale of what can happen when dads are emotionally and physically detached from their sons. Thank you, Paul Haggis.

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