PHOTOS: Casualties of War
Brian DePalma’s 1989 masterpiece Casualties of War is not only brilliantly directed and acted but it is also one of the greatest anti-war movies ever made. Based on a true event called The Incident on Hill 192, Michael J. Fox plays Pvt. Max Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) who is on his first tour in Vietnam. His squad is led by Sgt. Meserve (Sean Penn) a tough New Yorker who is a very effective soldier that his men respect. While on a recon one night the group come under fire and Eriksson falls into a hole which is directly above tunnels dug by the Vietcong. Luckily he is saved in the nick of time by none other than Meserve before being skewered by a VC rat. During R & R in a small village a soldier named “Brownie” (Erik King) is shot by a sniper which sends the men into a state of rage. Brownie happened to be Meserve’s best friend and the two seemed to keep each other in check at very crucial times. Following his death Meserve loses control and suddenly decides to kidnap a woman for “portable R & R” as he calls it. Eriksson is shocked when Meserve goes through with the outrageous idea. The other soldiers are impressed and excited by Meserve’s boldness but Eriksson becomes the only one that has a conscience thus creating a major conflict within the group. As Eriksson relents at Meserve and the other men’s threats and urgings to take part, things get more dangerous for him. It is a perfect depiction of what peer pressure is at its worst. Casualties of War is one of the most harrowing films I’ve ever seen and is very tough to get through but it completely accomplishes what it sets out to do which is to make you angry and disgusted not only about the act of rape but war itself. The supporting cast of actors including John C. Reilly, Don Harvey and John Leguizamo are all superb in their roles. The beautifully composed score by the legendary Ennio Morricone adds a tragic and moving background to the utter madness which unfolds on the screen.