I finally got around to seeing Jarhead tonight, with my friend Sam and his Girlfriend. It seems like a fairly appropriate choice for Veteran's day. I'm currently writing from Maine, at Farmington. I'm here for the weekend, visiting Sam and just getting out of Vermont for a little while. I need the change, because I'm feeling that I'm falling into an emotional rut once again. Gah.

So, Jarhead. I read the book a while ago, and found it to be fairly readable, engaging and annoying. It wasn't written terribly well, but it had a fairly interesting story. So I was interested to learn that it was being made into a movie, and even more interested when I heard the cast for the project. Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard, all actors whom I've seen before and liked their works.

The oil fields of Kuwait in Universal Pictures' Jarhead

I wasn't disappointed by the movie at all. On the contrary, I felt that it was much better than the book. The story follows a twenty year old marine, Anthony Swoffard, a third generation Marine, who enlists in 1989. While in the service, he trained as a marine sniper, and then was deployed with his platoon to Iraq for Operation Desert Shield, which later became Desert Storm.

The film goes deep into 'Swoff's' and some of his platoon mate's minds when they're deployed in the middle east. The director, Sam Medes, does an amazing job showing the dispair, boredom, anger and frustration of the two leads, when they're out in the desert, with years of training and nothing to shoot at. In a sense, they're fighting themselves. We see them when they're bored - his platoon mates shoot camels for fun, mutilate charred bodies, fight with each other, swear, yell, cry and sit looking out into the desert.

Medes uses the camera wonderfully, and I've not seen anything else by him to compare, but there is some outstanding imagery used here. A couple scenes, such as the first mortar attack, when the soldiers see the burning oil fields, when they're rejoining their platoon after recon, all outstandingly shot and filmed.

This is not a Black Hawk Down type of movie - very much different. There's not nearly as much action, save for the mortar attack and a couple of random bombings that we see here and there throughout their time in the desert. Instead, the movie focuses on the soldiers, and what their deployment means for their own minds.

In a way, it's depressingly too familiar to me. I'm not enlisted, don't plan on it any time soon. But I know some of those Jarheads. I could pick them out in the background and knew that some of my friends now at Norwich could be one of those guys. And I hope that they'll make it through okay.