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Film Review: Severe Clear

There are many movies about war and films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket are among the finest fiction Hollywood has produced dealing with the subject. Severe Clear is not just a film about war; it is a war on film.

Before I get too far into this review, I have something that needs to be disclosed. The writer and director of this film, Kristian Fraga is an old childhood friend of mine. I’ve known him from kindergarten through high school. He has always wanted to be a directed (although I would have thought he would have made a sci-fi film rather than a war film).

Severe Clear is a real life look at the beginnings of the Iraq War (which is still going on) from a Marine who was there at the beginning and on the front line. First Lieutenant Michael Scotti, while deployed in Iraq, took his video camera with him into battle and into the long hot days of sitting around.

His story is real and the images on the screen are real. The dead bodies don’t walk off the set when the camera is turned off. “They say in war bad things happen, ain’t that the mother fucking truth!”

Fraga does a great job in not going into the politics of this war, but the war is what it is and so even trying not to get political, the politics is there nonetheless. It is interesting to see First Lieutenant Scotti’s honest motivation in regard to the war. It was also interesting to see his excitement at finding what he thought were the weapons of mass destruction and his disappointment later when he revealed that they weren’t that massive after all.

The day to day struggles of soldiers is something we don’t see in other war movies. Scotti talks about the boredom, the bacteria, the smells, the difficulty in just going to the bathroom, and most troubling of all the time to think. Add those to the lack of body armor, ineffective tarps, defective equipment, and the lack of ability to understand the natives and we get a glimpse of the troubles of war. The good guys don’t always hit their targets and the bad guys can be almost anyone.

There were some key moments of particular interest to me. The first was when a higher ranking officer informed his men that they would be anointed with oil as some sort of religious warrior custom. It did not seem voluntary and it did seem highly unconstitutional. Another example of the military pushing religion.

There was an incident in which a little girl was killed and that seemed very genuine and really brought home the reality of war; namely the obvious that in war people die. This also was brought to the forefront when during a firefight, a Marine died. There was no time to grieve of the field of battle and all that could be said was that his brains were poring out. When I saw that scene, I thought of that man’s family and friends and how his death was treated so trivially, not because the soldiers were being disrespectful, but because there was no time and they were in shock.

Severe Clear is real war. It is raw and in your face. It is not for the queasy. If you want to know what war is like without actually being in one, too bad that ain’t going to happen. But this movie is the closest thing you’re going to get.

Go to severeclearthemovie.com for cities & showtimes and for more information about the DVD

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  • http://DangerousTalk Scott Pleune

    Thanks for the post Staks. I hope to see the movie by the end of the month. I currently am a supporter of the Middle East wars. I am open to changing my mind. But, currently i see us as promoters of democracy, against threat of theocracy. I don’t think we can afford let the forces for thecracy/(institutional mental slavery) intimidate or decline the need for basic liberties.

  • http://www.godlessbastard.com/ Gilgamesh

    I hope to be able to see to see “Severe Clear”. From the glimpse I saw in the trailer, it looked raw, honest and straightforward. A Marine, not too high up in either the enlisted or officers ranks, dead center in the midst of the shit, I believe, is the best method of viewing something as chaotic and dangerous as combat. Its’ hard work to spot and filter the biases that shape a funded documentary and as for the official military version; well, I trust the military as far as I can toss a tank. Since the Vietnam war, the military has been proven to lie about everything.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I know the writer and director and I think if he has any biases in this film it is on the more liberal side of things. But the Marine seemed like a typical Marine over there. He thought they were there to protect America from the terrorists who were responsible for 911. He thought there were weapons of mass destruction. He believed in the President and the mission. So I think the biases canceled each other out. This film is neither pro-war or anti-war. It shows both sides I think.

  • Jim

    I don’t know if you’re right, but it’s an interesting angle that I hadn’t considered before.

  • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    In context, the pericope from Mt. 15 is not about charitable giving, but rather about Jesus learning to (partially) overcome his inculturated racism against Gentiles.

  • Shelley

    A little knowledge is dangerous, and you have about as little as possible. You need to stick to subjects you are more familiar with. Blind leading the blind here.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I could be wrong, but if I am, you haven’t presented any evidence to correct me. please do. Share your knowledge.

  • towerman

    You are correct. You are not a Bible scholar. But George Lucas appreciates your worship.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      Are you trying to personally attack me in order to prove that my opinion is invalid without any evidence? As I said, I could be wrong and if I am, please present some valid evidence that I am. If it is valid, I will thank you for it and retract my statement. But trying to insult me (poorly I might add) isn’t going to do it.

  • paul

    Yeah I think you misinterpreted some things.

  • jake

    The “eye of a needle” was a small pathway on the walls of ancient cities. Its purpose was so that at nighttime people could come and go without opening the main gate and risking an ambush. It was tough for a camel to walk through and took effort, but was not impossible. It does not mean a needle that you sow with.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I think you missed the point of the blog post.

      • jake

        I know that was not the point of your post, however, when you are incorrect about one thing it hurts the rest of your argument.

        • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

          First, I’m not sure I was incorrect about anything and second, that had nothing to do with my argument so it wouldn’t hurt my argument even if I was incorrect about it. Besides, it was clearly a joke. The argument however holds.

  • jake

    Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in their entirety. It’s a fair amount of reading, but you could spread them out. Get a Bible concordance when you do it. Anything you are confused about you will be able to look up the exact original Greek word and what its exact translation is. This will really help your understanding.

  • GNevogt

    Recommend that you read the book entitled, “Jesus, A Pilgrimage” by Jesuit priest James Martin. You’ll have a lot better understanding of Jesus and His relationship with the poor.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I recommend you read The Bible!