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Author Topic: HEARTBREAK RIDGE: Story 1: The Film as a Whole  (Read 6018 times)
Matt
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« on: March 31, 2004, 11:39:50 PM »

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The script evolved a lot in the re-writing process. The relationship between Highway and Aggie hadn't been resolved, and none of the platoon members were drawn out adequately. Stitch simply played the guitar, then disappeared; he wasn't even in the military. Aponte, the Marine who is trying to support a family, and most of the other characters didn't exist at all. I felt that these individual stories were very important to the overall story . . . I set about rewriting it with writers Joe Stinson (Sudden Impact), and Dennis Hackin (Bronco Billy). Although the Writers' Guild wouldn't let them take screen credit, they made a major contribution.
(Clint Eastwood, quoted in Fuensanta Plaza's Clint Eastwood/Malpaso, p. 168)

 Heartbreak Ridge covers a lot of ground. It appears to be primarily the story of how a tough drill sergeant sets about "shaping up" undisciplined young soldiers, in the tradition of military genre pictures, but it has several other main themes. Among them are the question of how a man who has given everything he has to a career reacts when he finds himself facing mandatory retirement, about to be alone with nothing to live for; the problems of marriage within the military; the difficulties of learning respect toward others and self-respect; and finally ... going to war. The film is at times a comedy, at other times a drama as it deals with serious matters such as war and death. How do you feel all of these themes are balanced within the film as a whole? What are your impressions of what this film is really about? Do you see it as more of a relationship movie, or a military movie?

According to Ira Konigsberg's The Complete Film Dictionary, a theme is "a general subject, topic, message, concept, social attitude, or mood that runs throughout a work of art." Some of the themes in Heartbreak Ridge are outlined above. Are there others? Discuss how they are expressed and developed in the movie.
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vik
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2004, 05:37:07 AM »

alot of people saw this as a film to show america's military involvement in other countries and whether its intrusive  - given it was based on the situation in grenada

however i didn't see that myself - its always nice to see one country help another one out

i thought what was interesting in the story was the necessity to give soldiers the basic skills to survive in situations and who is best to get that job done

i think there is a sort of over emphasising of alot of the basic skills required and the fact that alot of the folk in charge were either nut heads or people very wet behind the ears

but there is no doubt that experience counts for alot and like all things there is a changing of the guard and you get the mixture of different levels of ability and in a crisis any individual can be a hero - young or old

i did like the humour alot especially the credit card sequence - you have to look at that in the context of when the film was made

the love interest i didn't really see it as romantic just the evolving highway who as he gets closer to retirement he looks for stability

if i had to compare this film with any it would be space cowboys - a career coming to an end but one more chance to redeem

as for casting i thought it was excellent - a cool mixture

i know alot has been said about the language but i actually see this as a fore runner to platoon, full metal jacket , hamburger hill - you expect folks sent to war to be a little expletive at the horrors etc. of killing people

lastly i have often wondered about people thrilled to go to war again and whether highway craved it or it was just his job?  do they perhaps want to die in battle?

if you see people today speaking about the horrors of the second world war many would never want to see another war if they lived let alone take part

i think as a whole its a very entertaining film you can pick up on many aspects of the film including that russian rifle still the preferred weapon of the enemy of the west
 
« Last Edit: May 06, 2004, 08:57:46 AM by vik » Logged

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bcm
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2004, 01:46:19 PM »

I see it as a military movie, with a side-story about emotions. This is one of the main reasons I don't like this movie (as you might have guessed :D). My husband likes it better than I do, because he knows what the soldiers are going through, but as a woman I find it more difficult to enjoy  boy-games such as fights in mud-holes and such.
   Personally, I always dislike seeing wars pictured like "games" in a movie (I know that we see people getting killed, but we never get to see their coffins, their mourning families).
   The third reason I don't enjoy watching this movie is that I don't particularly like the vulgar language. I know a lot of people think it's funny, but I think it's sad.
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"He wondered what the man's name was and where he was from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home: and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace" Sam, TTT, written by JRR Tolkien, 1954
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2004, 06:54:39 AM »

i don't necessairly think vulgar language is funny but in some movies its just there and it doesn't always mean the movie isn't any good
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2004, 04:47:09 PM »

I don't think the vulgar language is sad. It's just realistic, really, because often the military do sing blue songs, don't they?

Anyway, it adds humour to the scenes, juxtaposed with the serious issues being addressed. And the seriousness of war is more than alluded to...the opening sequence of the film shows injured soldiers on stretchers, doesn't it? Plus a crying child at the end. I would've thought that was spelling out the seriousness of war, and its consequences, more than anything.

This is certainly not a military film with a side-story about emotions, in my opinion. The emotional part of the film is very important to the film as a whole. The scene between Tom and Aggie is very important (which I'll discuss either in favourite scene or one of the other threads) because it shows the harsh reality of war...particularly from a woman's point of view, which we don't often see in films. So this is why Heartbreak Ridge is particularly interesting and why I like it so much.

Tom and Aggie have a lot of history...and have been through so much...a romance isn't always about Romeo & Juliet passion...it's about knowing the other person so well, knowing their faults and little quirks...and loving them for all of it. Aggie comes to realise she loves Tom despite everything. This for me was a true love story in a way.
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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2004, 05:04:19 PM »

Very nicely stated, Ally.  :D

I agree with you.  The vulgar language isn't sad......it's part of that way of life and it does add humor throughout to alleviate the seriousness of some of the issues.  I don't normally like to hear that kind of language all the time but, in this particular film, I thought it was appropriate.

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The emotional part of the film is very important to the film as a whole.

Yes, it's the underlying theme of the entire film.  Here is a man who is at the end of his long career and terrified of what's in front of him.  He goes to the woman he loves for comfort and for help.  I find that very touching.

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Tom and Aggie have a lot of history...and have been through so much...a romance isn't always about Romeo & Juliet passion...it's about knowing the other person so well, knowing their faults and little quirks...and loving them for all of it. Aggie comes to realise she loves Tom despite everything. This for me was a true love story in a way.

Beautifully said......and, no, romance is never all Romeo and Juliet passion.  It IS about getting to know someone during the good times as well as the bad; it's about struggling to make it through life's roadblocks; and it IS about knowing everything about someone and ending up loving them anyway.  That's what I see in their relationship, too.  They both know each other so well and that is so obvious with some of the great lines that Aggie delivers.  Yet, you can see the love she has for him and the fact that he is there....laying out his vulnerability to her.....says that he loves her, too, and really has all of these years.

Thanks for the post, Ally.  Great stuff!!
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allycat
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2004, 05:11:32 PM »

Glad to know that we think alike on this one too, Mary ;)

Every time I think of this film, I think of The Bridges of Madison County. Again, it's about a more mature couple...perhaps dissatisfied with life, searching for something...then re-discovering it again. Only this time, Tom and Aggie re-discover it with each other. It's nice to think that a relationship like that isn't necessarily over, even when two people split up...the love and the need is strong enough to bring them back together.
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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2004, 01:30:19 PM »

From Ally:

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Every time I think of this film, I think of The Bridges of Madison County. Again, it's about a more mature couple...perhaps dissatisfied with life, searching for something...then re-discovering it again.

Nice comparison, Ally.  In The Bridges of Madison County, it was so enjoyable to watch Robert and Francesca get to know each other, discover what each was about, weighing the good with the bad, and ending up with the kind of love we all hope to find at some point in our lives.  But, in the end, they went their separate ways yet never was the other far from each's mind.  If they could have, somehow, gotten back together in later years, it would compare even better to Heartbreak Ridge because we would get to see them re-discover each other as Tom and Aggie do.  

In contrast, however, the kinds of loves between these couples seems to be very different.  Tom and Aggie have met their struggles through more volatile scenarios and then have come together again and again.  Robert and Francesca seem to have a more peaceful love filled with patience and understanding of everything about each other.  But, the end result for both couples is the same.... they love each other.

From bcm:

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I see it as a military movie, with a side-story about emotions. This is one of the main reasons I don't like this movie (as you might have guessed ). My husband likes it better than I do, because he knows what the soldiers are going through, but as a woman I find it more difficult to enjoy  boy-games such as fights in mud-holes and such.

Even though the "side-story about emotions" is more subtely played out, I almost see it as being the main theme of this movie with the emphasis on Gunny's military career as the side-story.  The military scenes are meant to show us what kind of man Gunny really is and what he's been doing for the past 24 or 25 years so that we can better understand why he and Aggie might have had problems dealing with all of that.  And, it's meant to show us how lost he will be without what he's known all of his adult life.

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....but as a woman I find it more difficult to enjoy  boy-games such as fights in mud-holes and such.

It's called military training; it's not boy-games in mud-holes.  If you see a "true" war movie, you're more likely to see the actual battles in a war, the actual mud-holes they have to maneuver, and, of course, you will see the realistic body bags of those lost in those battles.  This is a movie more about military training than military wars.  It seems a little insulting to call them "boy-games."  These aren't games.....this is life and death.

In case some of you have not quite figured it out, I like this movie.  ;)
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Matt
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2004, 09:14:56 PM »

I consider Heartbreak Ridge to be more of a relationship movie than a military movie. Although a great portion of Heartbreak Ridge is about military training and the last half hour shows the men in combat in Grenada, the main themes of the film deal with the relationships between Gunny and the Recon platoon, the relationship of Gunny and Aggie, and the changes that we see in these relationships as the film evolves.

One of the themes of Heartbreak Ridge that hasn't yet been mentioned is that of second chances. Gunny gets a second chance to end his military career where he started his Marine career... with the Recon battalion. Gunny also gets a second chance with a relationship with Aggie, and there's also Swede who is given a second chance at being a Marine.
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dane with no name
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2004, 07:02:41 AM »

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One of the themes of Heartbreak Ridge that hasn't yet been mentioned is that of second chances.
Nicely put Matt. Returning to make things right
( whether it be ; back at recon, fixing things up with aggie, making sure "we aint 0-1-1s anymore, etc.)
which is why i fail to see the similarities between heartbreak ridge and bridges as opposed to other clint movies. Sure, highway needs the love of a good woman, but so does harry callahan, josey wales, william munny. (especially munny)  Robert and Francesca are strangers to each others. Highway and aggie are not.

 Another thing i´d like to discuss is the civilians view on the military personel. It sems pretty obvious that the marines arent in good standing with the civilians. everyone seems to dislike them (with the exception of little mary, and Jones´s female fanclub) at the start. taking into consideration the time it was filmed, how did you feel about it. At the time it was out, the ghost of vietnam was still haunting the U.S. army, the cold war almost at an end, iraq was far away, and a lot of movies didnt show the U.S. forces at their best (platoon, hamburger hill, full metal jacket to name some of the most obvious.) Did you feel that it showed the right point of view the civilians? what was your own point of view about the military at that point?
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allycat
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2004, 01:02:43 PM »

Nicely put Matt. Returning to make things right
( whether it be ; back at recon, fixing things up with aggie, making sure "we aint 0-1-1s anymore, etc.)
which is why i fail to see the similarities between heartbreak ridge and bridges as opposed to other clint movies. Sure, highway needs the love of a good woman, but so does harry callahan, josey wales, william munny. (especially munny)  Robert and Francesca are strangers to each others. Highway and aggie are not.

Well, I can only speak for myself, so I don't expect everyone else to see the same thing! I think just the way that Gunny tries to understand Aggie, and be sensitive to her needs in the end, makes me think of Robert Kincaid and Francesca. Not in a big way, but still I feel the similarities are there. Especially if we are talking about second chances...isn't Robert Francesca's second chance at happiness, just as Aggie and Gunny get a second chance together? Ultimately both films are about relationships and the love between more mature couples...Heartbreak Ridge uses the military aspect of the film to perhaps 'enhance' the emotion in the film, for want of a better word, though the film is really about the relationship between Gunny and Aggie, the military connection is used to tackle an important subject: that of soldier's wives and their feelings, and the aftermath of war, the toll it takes on a relationship.

I was too young to see Heartbreak Ridge when it came out in 1986, so I have to remember the context in which the film came out when I'm watching it. It's not something I've really thought about before, so thanks, Dane, I'll have a think about it and see if I can reply to your comments! I can't say I ever had a negative view of the US military...I wasn't really aware of the negative view of the civilians towards the marines either, apart from Aggie's obvious problems with military life, but then, she's been through the wringer because of her love for Gunny and having to cope with him not being there...perhaps it's time for yet another viewing ;)
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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
dane with no name
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2004, 07:01:53 AM »

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Well, I can only speak for myself, so I don't expect everyone else to see the same thing!
Of course you cant speak for everyone, and rightly none should. You intrepetate the movie one way, i in another way. Bottomline is that we share our views and either agree or disagree, but we talk about it. That´s why this page is called Clint eastwood DISCUSSION forum.  ;) So surely you should just go ahead and post your views and opinions on eastwood, that´s what this place is for  :) Still cant say i agree with you, but i can follow your ideas. A lot of eastwoods movies are about a second chances more or less.(heartbreak ridge, true crime, blood works) but that are discussions for future times.  8)  
 
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D'Ambrosia
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2004, 08:54:26 PM »

I love this movie.  I saw it when I was 16 and walked out of it feeling great.  Already a die hard Eastwood fan (and starting seeing ever one of flicks of his since then when they came out)  I went into it very die hard.  

As I did with Pale Rider but with Pale Rider I was dissipointed but with Heartbreak Ridge I was not...
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Matt
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2004, 07:13:30 PM »

Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the General Discussion forum.
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