Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I'll only watch comedies for awhile - Brothers movie

Last night, my hubby and I settled in to watch a movie. I picked it up at Redbox, thinking it would be a good "guy" movie that he would enjoy (to thank him for being such a good hubby, I'm willing to compromise now & then on the flicks). I knew little about Brothers, except that it was a war movie - I thought it was about 2 brothers that went to war together. We almost had to turn it off after about 30 minutes or so, as I was crying like a 2 year old. I know a dear boy - 19 years old - who is about to enter Marine bootcamp, my own brother has been to Iraq & Afghanistan so many times that I've lost count. The scenes in the movie about the soldier being in Afghanistan were beyond torment to watch - much less imagine someone you love possibly going through the same.

Now, I've been pretty emotional lately, so I attributed the tears to my crazy hormones or something... I'm sure I'm not the only person who cried at this movie. If you can watch it and NOT cry, I either need to applaud you or wonder how you possibly did it.

My father is a Vietnam vet with PTSD and a host of other issues both from the war and from his own childhood. I haven't seen him in over 30 years. There's a scene in the movie where Tobey McGuire's character walks across the yard to his daughters, who are playing in the snow. The older child backs away from him in fear - it was at that moment that I lost it. Something in me *clicked* and I felt every emotion of that young girl - because I'd BEEN her. I remembered, somewhere deep in my gut, of fearing my father on such a gutteral level that the scene brought back such a flood of emotions that I couldn't hold them back. I started sobbing and nearly hyperventilating, hubby was very concerned and said "If I had any idea..." It wasn't his fault, as I said *I* picked the movie! But at that moment, he finally got it. I don't know, and didn't ask, if he meant if he'd had any idea the movie would affect me that way or if he'd only known how my father did...

After years of him asking me "Why don't you go see your dad." - I was finally able to SHOW him why... I said "That little girl...I remember that...I remember that look..." It was the look of a man who had been through inhumane tortures, who was now back to "normal life" and didn't know how to do "normal" anymore. It was the look of that poor little girl, who had missed her Daddy so much, but feared the look in his eyes so much that she couldn't go near him. I want to see the sequel to this movie (there isn't one in the works that I know of). I want to see how that little girl turned out. But I already know the rest of the story... it's mine.

As Tobey's character says at the end "I can't remember who said ..."It is only the dead who have seen the end of war.” (the quote is attributed to Plato)

This is the biggest reason I hate war. People think about the innocent civilians killed, the fallen soldiers - I cry for them, too. But most people don't think so much about the soldiers - the heros - who survive the war, only to come home and die a little more every day, every year. They don't see the children who are afraid of a father who loves them but who scare their loved ones - not because they want to, but because they just don't know how to do "normal" life anymore.

Note: my father is still alive, living in W.Va. on the top of a mountain with other vets who can't do normal. He is very ill, but he writes every few months, he sends checks now and then in an attempt to make up for his "failures" (his word in the last note I got from him). I haven't seen him, I don't know that I ever will. As I told my husband last night "Now you know why I don't see him...and why he doesn't want us to see him." He hasn't yet seen the end of war.

(You can see the clip below, a 40 seconds into the trailer, where he walks toward her and she steps back)


misundersteph said...

I find out we have more in common the more I talk to you/read your blog. My dad is also a Vietnam vet, and we've talked before about how he grew up. Definitely won't be watching this movie...Oh, if I'm not too late, don't read The Kite Runner.

Anonymous said...

My dad is also a Vietnam vet who, I believe, struggled with the experience once returning home. My story differs in that I had a wonderful childhood for the most part. I remember my Dad drinking heavily at times, but that all ceased after we lost a family member in a tragic accident. Through it all, though, was always a strong spiritual belief...God was always there. I think this is why I have such great memories. I think my Dad finally moved past the struggle of the war experience a few years ago after meeting up with some of his old Army buddies. He seems to have made some sort of peace with it. I also hate war, for any reason, and I think it stems from my Dad's final note, make peace with your Dad, you will not regret it.

Marsha said...

Oh Melinda, this touched me deeply - your story and the movie trailer. You are so right, in war, everyone is a causality.

I wanted to let you know I'm praying for your friend's precious little boy. Heart wrenching.