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Author Topic: HEARTBREAK RIDGE: Story 5: Tom's and Aggie's Future  (Read 9258 times)
KC
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« on: March 31, 2004, 11:35:27 PM »

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Heartbreak Ridge isn't set up so that Aggie becomes Highway's reward for brave soldiering. Yet when the conquering heroes come out of the transport plane in the film's final sequence, and all the other guys rush to their families or girlfriends and Highway has no one, I felt so terrible for him--and then so glad when I saw Aggie in the grandstand waving an American flag. Maybe they won't be happy until they die, but for a day or a week or a year, Highway won't be alone.
(Helen Knode, "Clint Eastwood: Always Lighting Out for New Territories," L.A. Weekly, January 11, 1991, p. 20-24)

What are your feelings about this final scene? Considering Aggie's anger about how the military has always taken Highway from her, were you surprised that she was waiting for him when he returned home? Where do you think Tom's and Aggie's relationship will lead? Do you think their relationship will be successful this time around? Why or why not?
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mgk
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2004, 08:25:18 AM »

It seems to me that Gunny being in the Marines was the biggest problem he and Aggie had.  And, it's not hard to see why.  As "gung-ho" as Gunny was, I'm sure the Marines came first no matter what and he devoted his whole life to them which left little time for Aggie.  And, as that scene in the back room of Little Mary's place shows, Aggie was torn apart watching the body bags come home from whatever war was going on at the time....fearing Gunny was going to be one of those bodies....and the not knowing was just too much for Aggie to handle.

Gunny won't have the Marines anymore.  Maybe that little avocado farm might just work.  I think it was obvious that they loved each other.  The military way of life just caused them too many problems.

I wasn't really as surprised that Aggie was there when Gunny returned from Grenada as I was relieved.  That seemingly long scene of Gunny walking through the crowd alone observing the families that everyone had was really sad.  And, I think, for the first time, Gunny realized that he had not made room for something in his life that was just as important as being a Marine and we, as well as he, thought he was getting out of the Marines and had absolutely nothing to look forward to.

So, when that little flag started waving and Gunny and Aggie exchanged those knowing looks, it seemed like they both were embarking on a new start which just might work out.
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bcm
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2004, 11:48:14 AM »

I was very surprised to see Aggie waiting for Tom, I have to admit. The film never really convinced me that Highway was worth it (sorry to say that, but this is how I feel). Highway is cold, stoned, problably (I just assume so) has PTSD, and is in no way ready for a true, real, honest relationship. Even if he has nothing to do all day, that will not give him any social competence back. He tries, I fully agree with that, but he cannot. The scene I would like to quote to explain why I think the way I do is, when Highway and Aggie are dancing together:
Quote
Aggie: What do they say about ex-wives?
Gunny: Not too much. Just that sex is great because you don't have to establish a relationship or be meaningful.
Aggie: You really are trying to understand us
Gunny: The best I can, yes
I think that is basically it. He would like to be "normal" again, but he can't. He prefers sex without a relationship because it's about the best he can do, in his actual psychological state. The reason why he tries to get into contact with Aggie might be the one she asks him:
Quote
Is that because you can't be a marine anymore and you have no place to go?
He's hurt, but he knows no answer to that.
  Soon afterwards he is waiting for her to tell him wether she will marry Jay (was that his name, sorry if wrong). He does not wait until she answers, he doesn't give her three seconds of time for a "yes" or a "no".  As soon as his job calls, he's gone. He didn't have to rush that fast, several seconds don't ever matter! He rushed because he feared the answer, because he was not sure he could emotionally handle it either way.
  So, basically I think it's great that Aggie waits for him, because he desperately needs someone, or he'll drown in alcohol soon. But he is, IMO, not capable of a love relationship at all at that point
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2004, 04:35:48 PM »

Oh, wow!  We really aren't anywhere near to being on the same page on this one, are we?

I guess I need to understand some of the claims you have made here.  You say:

Quote
Highway is cold, stoned, problably (I just assume so) has PTSD, and is in no way ready for a true, real, honest relationship.

Why do you say he's stoned?  Stoned on what?  Are you talking about all the drinking that you referred to in another post?  I agree that he does some serious drinking in a couple of scenes in this movie but the thought never crossed my mind that he had a problem with alcohol.  I think he's drinking to escape his problems for a few hours but he's not an alcoholic.  It's something he does when he wants to...not because he has to.  It isn't the root of his problems.
 
I'm no expert on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder but here's a list of symptoms that I found for it:
 
Quote
Symptoms of PTSD are generally of three types:

Intrusive -

Dissociative states
Flashbacks
Intrusive emotions and memories
Nightmares and night terrors

Avoidant -

Avoiding emotions
Avoiding relationships
Avoiding responsibility for others
Avoiding situations that are reminiscent of the traumatic event

Hyperarousal -

Exaggerated startle reaction
Explosive outbursts
Extreme vigilance
Irritability
Panic symptoms
Sleep disturbance

Intrusive memories and emotions interfere with normal thought processes and social interaction. Flashbacks feature auditory and visual hallucinations. For example, the sounds and images of combat often comprise the content of flashbacks experienced by military veterans. Flashbacks can be triggered by ordinary stimuli such as a low-flying airplane or a loud noise, anything that brings to mind an aspect of the event. Nightmares and night terrors also feature aspects of the traumatic event.
Dissociative symptoms include psychic numbing, depersonalization, and amnesia.

People with PTSD commonly avoid stimuli and situations that remind them of the traumatic event because they trigger symptoms.

People experiencing hyperarousal symptoms are always on the alert for danger or threat and are easily startled.  
 

(If anyone would care to read more, here is the link:   http://www.mentalhealthchannel.net/ptsd/symptoms.shtml)

Even though Gunny Highway has experienced many life-threatening events in military combat, I just don't see him suffering from PTSD at all.  I thought people who suffered from PTSD due to military situations more or less isolated themselves from almost everyone and certainly never wanted to enter a battlefield again.  Just that suggestion usually brings on an attack of flashbacks or nightmares for them, doesn't it?  Gunny is ready to go to war as soon as one breaks out. He is "gung ho", by his own definition of the word.  He's a man who is very much in control of what he does in a military situation.  He is a man that everyone can see is in control, even during the worst combat situations. He's the one who's in control. How could someone with PTSD be the one everyone turns to during battle?  Now, granted, he is estranged from his wife but many men are estranged from their wives and have never even seen a war.  And, the way I understand PTSD, people who suffer from this don't want relationships with hardly anyone but, yet, Gunny is actively pursuing a relationship with Aggie.   And, he has a long-term relationship with Little Mary and even chose to stay in her back room.  He could have gotten a place somewhere else. He has a twenty year or more history of a good relationship with his friend, Sgt. Maj. Choozoo, that he is obviously planning to try and keep.  He acts as a father figure to this rowdy bunch of recons and even goes as far as loaning money to Aponte who is desperately trying to support his family with a second job because the Marines don't pay him enough.  Gunny understands that; he's sympathetic to that.  This man, Gunny, is a strong leader, a demanding commanding officer, but he cares about other people a great deal and goes out of his way to help them.  A man suffering from PTSD isn't going to be concerned with anyone else's problems; he has enough of his own.

You say, "....and is in no way ready for a true, real, honest relationship."  I see that completely differently from the way you see it.  Partially quoting from my post just above yours:

Quote
It seems to me that Gunny being in the Marines was the biggest problem he and Aggie had.  And, it's not hard to see why.  As "gung-ho" as Gunny was, I'm sure the Marines came first no matter what and he devoted his whole life to them which left little time for Aggie.   And, as that scene in the back room of Little Mary's place shows, Aggie was torn apart watching the body bags come home from whatever war was going on at the time....fearing Gunny was going to be one of those bodies....and the not knowing was just too much for Aggie to handle.

Gunny won't have the Marines anymore.  Maybe that little avocado farm might just work.  I think it was obvious that they loved each other.  The military way of life just caused them too many problems.

Gunny finally took a look at what he was going to have left after his long military career and realized that some of the dreams Aggie had could be the same dreams he could have now that his life in the Marines is over.  I think for the first time in his life he IS ready for a true, real and honest relationship.  You quoted Aggie as saying:

Quote
Is that because you can't be a marine anymore and you have no place to go?

You say he is hurt and knows no answer to that.  He knows the answer.  He knows that the answer to her question is a resounding "Yes" and THAT is why he is there to see her. He has only known the Marines almost all of his adult life and he has absolutely no idea where he is supposed to go after all of this is over.  I think he came running to the one person who knows him better than anyone else and is desperately seeking her love and understanding once again and wants another chance with her at making a life together.

As for your quote on the partial conversation on the dance floor:

Quote
Aggie: What do they say about ex-wives?
Gunny: Not too much. Just that sex is great because you don't have to establish a relationship or be meaningful.
Aggie: You really are trying to understand us
Gunny: The best I can, yes.

The first two lines of that conversation are meant as a joke and shouldn't be mistakenly applied to what Gunny really thinks about sex with HIS ex-wife. He's trying to loosen her up with that joke and make her smile a little because she's still so defensive and angry. The second two lines are meant to show us that Aggie finally realizes that he IS actually trying to understand her better.  He may not be doing the best job in the world at that but he is trying and that is, ultimately, what is important to her.

Quote
Soon afterwards he is waiting for her to tell him wether she will marry Jay (was that his name, sorry if wrong). He does not wait until she answers, he doesn't give her three seconds of time for a "yes" or a "no".  As soon as his job calls, he's gone. He didn't have to rush that fast, several seconds don't ever matter! He rushed because he feared the answer, because he was not sure he could emotionally handle it either way.

He didn't rush because he feared her answer.  There was an alert and that meant everyone had to report immediately. The men who he was responsible could be going to war, and every single second that they had .. he needed to be there to make sure they were as prepared as possible. He was responsible for them, and for their lives. He can't stand there and wait for her answer. Plus, isn't it a lot better for none of us to know so that we can anticipate what we think or what we hope will happen? It's part of Eastwood's trademark to not spell things out for the audience just as he didn't when Gunny sees Aggie waving her little flag. The expressions they exchange say (in my opinion), "Okay, let's give it a shot but I know it isn't going to be easy."

I guess I just see this in more of a romantic light than you do.  It's a nice story about a volatile relationship during volatile times.  But, now that times are not going to be quite so volatile, maybe their relationship won't  be either.  
« Last Edit: April 12, 2004, 04:56:57 PM by mgk » Logged
bcm
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2004, 05:04:26 AM »

Geeze, my mistake, I'm sorry!! I have written "stoned", because I was translating literally "versteinert". This means something like "became like stone". I should have noticed, since I know what "stoned" means, but I only noticed when you pointed it out, mgk. Sorry again, I didn't mean to say that Highway was on drugs!
I'll be back later with a further explanation of why I see Highway the way I see him, I don't have the time right now. Interesting debate coming up, I think  :D
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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 #5 on: April 15, 2004, 06:16:37 AM »

i think their future is in tom's hands and whether he can find any job or anything to keep him away from the booze

if he can find a job or an interest like the service then he will stay with aggie and they will marry and live happily ever after - arrrrrhhhhhhh
« Last Edit: April 16, 2004, 12:56:23 AM by vik » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2004, 01:30:51 PM »

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 Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial."
  http://www.ncadd.org/facts/defalc.html
I still think Highway has an alcohol problem, since he drinks whenever he encounters a problem, he then has severe adverse consequences (prison, fine). We also never see a non-alcoholic beverage appear on screen exept coffee in the morning...he doesn't bring Aggie flowers, he brings her a sixpack! He certainly doesn't get drunk every night, but it is hinted that he drinks one or more beers every day, and that he sometimes gets severly drunk. To me, this can be qualified as an alcohol problem.
  You are right about the PTSD. Gunny does volunteer for every war on this planet, and he doesn't seem to have flashbacks, as you rightly pointed out. But even if he doens't suffer PTSD, I would not call his emotional competences average.
Quote
  And, he has a long-term relationship with Little Mary and even chose to stay in her back room.  He could have gotten a place somewhere else. He has a twenty year or more history of a good relationship with his friend, Sgt. Maj. Choozoo, that he is obviously planning to try and keep.  He acts as a father figure to this rowdy bunch of recons and even goes as far as loaning money to Aponte who is desperately trying to support his family with a second job because the Marines don't pay him enough.  Gunny understands that; he's sympathetic to that.  This man, Gunny, is a strong leader, a demanding commanding officer, but he cares about other people a great deal and goes out of his way to help them.
Your quote shows how you understand Highway. I understand him differently. I don't see him as a father figure, he just wants to do his job right. And this means, to get as least soldiers killed as possible. You don't need to have a relationship with them, you don't need to care, it could also be just his work, and the fact that the better they are, the greater are his own chances too. The same thing applies to him lending money to Aponte. He doesn't seemed very pleased holding a baby in his arms, does he? He lends the money so that Aponte can train, so that... (see above).
   He goes back to Mary because he doesn't know where else to go to, because he knows her, and feels comfortable there.  He does not have a "long-term relationship" with Mary though, since she greets him with the words:
Quote
Don't you know how to write or call?
A relationship implies some kind of contact, otherwise it's closer to a memory than to a relationship.
This conversation with her BTW is very revealing, I feel. Later she tells him:
Quote
Mary: If you want a lot from a woman, you have to give a lot
Gunny: Not this kid. Seemed like marriage and marinecorps weren't too compatible
Mary: Pantherpiss. The best years of my life were with a marine
This puts a doubt wether the main problem of Aggie and Tom  was  really  the marine. I think that he uses that as an excuse. Apparently, he didn't write Aggie either, during his wars (She had no way of knowing where he was and what he was doing, other than to watch the news!).
Quote
  He knows the answer.  He knows that the answer to her question is a resounding "Yes" and THAT is why he is there to see her.
So you think that the fact he has nowhere else to go, noone else he knows well enough, will be a fertile beginning of a love relationship? I'm sorry, I cannot believe that such a feeling will ever ever be enough. For a friendship yes, for a love, no. In the movie 28 days the alcoholics are reminded to first take care of a plant for a year. Then take a dog. If both are still alive after two years, they are emotionally mature enough to think about love. Personally, I would offer Highway a nice little plant  :)
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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
Matt
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2004, 06:13:50 PM »

I'd like to tackle two of the things in bcm's post that I don't agree with, but I'll leave the rest for mgk because I'm sure she has a lot to say about the relationships in Gunny's life.

bcm, you give a definition for "alcoholism", but then say that you see Gunny having a "problem with alcohol" beneath the definition. There's a difference between an alcoholic and someone who drinks excessively at times. The difference is that an alcoholic is dependent on alcohol to function, and if they don't have alcohol in their system will suffer withdrawal symptoms which affect them physically and emotionally (nausea, "the shakes", excessive irritability, etc.). Note that these symptoms come from not having alcohol in the system, not from drinking which could make anyone vomit or irritable at the time.  Although Gunny drinks excessively at times, there are no signs that he's dependent on alcohol, and he doesn't, as you say above, bcm, drink "whenever he encounters a problem". He didn't have a flask on him in Grenada when he and his troops were under fire, and he didn't show any signs of needing a drink then either.  So, while I can agree with you that Gunny has a problem with alcohol (at times), I can't agree that he's an alcoholic.  

As for Gunny drinking a beer or two every day... maybe he does, we really don't know. But even if he did, it wouldn't make him an alcoholic any more than someone who has a glass of wine every night with dinner. The difference between someone who drinks alcohol and an alcoholic is a physical and emotional need for alcohol, which I don't see Gunny having at all.


I don't see him as a father figure, he just wants to do his job right. And this means, to get as least soldiers killed as possible. You don't need to have a relationship with them, you don't need to care, it could also be just his work, and the fact that the better they are, the greater are his own chances too. The same thing applies to him lending money to Aponte. He doesn't seemed very pleased holding a baby in his arms, does he? He lends the money so that Aponte can train, so that... (see above).

Gunny is given the job of transforming a group of undisciplined young men who act more like rowdy children into the image of himself, a competent soldier. He teaches them not only how to be soldiers, but how to be men -- instilling a sense of responsibility, pride, and respect for themselves and their family, the Marine Corps. I think the film goes to great lengths to show how much Gunny cares about these men, especially the scenes with Aponte and his family and with Swede, and can't see any reason to think otherwise. Gunny would rather project himself as a tough as nails, heartless leader to these men than a sympathetic and caring person.... it was what they needed if he was going to get them into the physical and psychological condition needed for them to have a chance to survive if they were thrown into combat. But the men learned that underneath the tough exterior was a man who cared about them, and from that, their respect for him evolved. By the end, Stitch even decided he'd rather be a Marine than a singer, and follow in the steps of the man who he looked up to.

Since you like to define words in debates, here's a defintion for "father figure":

Quote
fa·ther fig·ure (plural fa·ther fig·ures)

noun

man giving help: a man whom other people look up to for advice, inspiration, or protection.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861690139

And wouldn't you say that's exactly what Gunny was to the Recon platoon?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2004, 06:20:28 PM by Matt » Logged
mgk
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2004, 07:16:35 PM »

Well, we're still not seeing things anywhere near the same.

Gunny Highway certainly drinks when he wants to and drinks as much as he wants to at the time and he has no respect for civilian authority.  But, I can't go as far as you do and say that he has a serious drinking problem. When you say we never see a non-alcoholic beverage on the screen except for the morning coffee, that reminds me, too, that Gunny is from a beer drinking culture. His long-time friend, Little Mary, owns a bar.  His wife works in a bar serving beer to Marines.  He and his friend, Choozoo, have gotten together on probably many occasions and tipped up a few bottles. All of this still falls into a category of enjoying your beer but doesn't equate, for me anyway, as an alcoholic with the normal symptoms of alcoholism like Matt says above.  I don't see this man as dependent on alcohol and I don't see alcohol ruling every facet of his life.   I see him as a man who enjoys his beer and sometimes enjoys it a lot but I also see that others in his circle of friends do the same.....and this explains why he brought a six pack of beer to Aggie's house instead of flowers.  And, let's remember that she was glad to share that beer with him

As for the father-figure topic......

Quote
He doesn't seemed very pleased holding a baby in his arms, does he?

I think you missed the point.  That was supposed to be comedy.  Sometimes it's comical to see a man who has never had children try and deal with the crying and the wiggling because they're not used to it.....have no idea what to do in those circumstances.  That's all this is.  And, it's even funnier because Gunny is this "gung-ho," macho Marine......he's not supposed to know what to do with a crying baby.  

Quote
He lends the money so that Aponte can train, so that... (see above).


He doesn't lend money to Aponte because Aponte has to train.  Aponte has to train because he's in the Marines.  When you are drafted or you enlist in a military branch, it doesn't make any difference how many children you have or what your financial situation is......you have to train, you have to be there, you have to do your duty.  Aponte has to work all of that out somehow without Gunny's help or without anyone else's help if he has to.  Gunny understands how hard it is to make ends meet when you're in the military......he's been there a long, long time.  If Gunny had not cared about Aponte, he would have just turned him in for military discipline and maybe be done with him, but that's not what he did.  He went to see what the problem was, understood, and then helped him in whatever way he could.  He did that because he cares not because he had to and not to make sure he could train.

Quote
He goes back to Mary because he doesn't know where else to go to, because he knows her, and feels comfortable there.  He does not have a "long-term relationship" with Mary though, since she greets him with the words:

Quote:

Don't you know how to write or call?
 

A relationship implies some kind of contact, otherwise it's closer to a memory than to a relationship.

You don't have any people whom you haven't seen, called, written to in the past five or ten years that you don't call friends?  I still have friends from high school that I consider closer to me than a lot of the people I see on a daily basis.  They're the kinds of friends that you can just pick up where you left off whether you've seen or spoken to each other recently or not.  Some friendships just stick.

Quote
This conversation with her BTW is very revealing, I feel. Later she tells him:

Quote:

Mary: If you want a lot from a woman, you have to give a lot
Gunny: Not this kid. Seemed like marriage and marinecorps weren't too compatible
Mary: Pantherpiss. The best years of my life were with a marine
 

This puts a doubt wether the main problem of Aggie and Tom  was  really  the marine. I think that he uses that as an excuse. Apparently, he didn't write Aggie either, during his wars (She had no way of knowing where he was and what he was doing, other than to watch the news!).

Maybe all that means is that Little Mary and her husband had a great marriage in spite of the Marines.  Maybe Little Mary's husband was a good Marine but not a "gung-ho" Marine like Gunny.  Maybe Little Mary was a more patient woman than Aggie.  Maybe Little Mary is remembering only the good times because her  husband is dead. There are a lot of unknown factors here.  But, common sense tells us that being married to someone in the military is, at best, difficult.  That statement doesn't put doubts in my head whether the main problem between Aggie and Tom was his devotion to the Marines or not.  Now, certainly, if Gunny did not write to Aggie (and we don't know that for sure) and let her know he was thinking of her every once in a while, then maybe that makes him a bad husband at the time.   But, if doesn't mean that he hasn't learned a few things along the way and may turn out to be a better husband in the future.

Quote
So you think that the fact he has nowhere else to go, noone else he knows well enough, will be a fertile beginning of a love relationship?

I didn't say he has nowhere else to go.  I'm saying he chose to come "home." He harassed his commanding officer to get himself transferred back to the military base where Aggie was because he wanted to be near her, he wanted to try and revive an already existing love affair.  This isn't a new love for each other...it doesn't need a fertile beginning.  This is a love that never died in spite of wars, in spite of a divorce, in spite of long periods of time apart.  They both still love each other......that, to me, is easy to see.  Are they apprehensive about a future together?  Sure.  Their past tells them they should be.  But, there are no guarantees and they know that.  Gunny loves this woman; he always has.  He just had to get through fighting wars to take the time to realize it and want to do something about it.  She knows he still loves her and she knows she still loves him.  His career just got in the way.
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2004, 12:59:28 AM »

i don't think he is an alcoholic but when he does booze it doesn't bring the best out of him - and two people in a relationship demand a bit of respect from each other

if he has a job like the service that can keep him occupied then he will be happy and the relationship will be a happy one
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2004, 12:50:06 PM »

Quote
 continuous or PERIODIC impaired control over drinking
A grown up man who gets so drunk he ends up in prison, and continues to do that is, IMVHO, an alcoholic. The fact that he's surrounded by people who drink a lot too does not change that.  And the fact that he doesn't drink in Grenada does not proove he's not alcoholic either. It only prooves he has not PTSD, which I have understood before my last post too. I don't think Highway feels uncomfortable, or has a "problem" with war(the reason I thought he had PTSD was his social incompetence and coldness). So, there is actually no reason for him to drink during a military invasion, is there? But I guess the definition of alcoholism is debatable, so I won't discuss much more about this, since we'll never agree.
    Highway could have turned the Swede and Aponte in, and he didn't. I don't think he didn't do it because he especially cared for them as persons (and why would he care about the Swede, someone please explain?). I felt he wanted to show his boss that he was NOT a relic, that he would do a better job with his platoon than had ever been done before. So, the result is the same, but the motivation is not. Of course, it's a matter of interpretation, as most things...
Quote
 Maybe all that means is that Little Mary and her husband had a great marriage in spite of the Marines.  Maybe Little Mary's husband was a good Marine but not a "gung-ho" Marine like Gunny.  Maybe Little Mary was a more patient woman than Aggie.  Maybe Little Mary is remembering only the good times because her  husband is dead. There are a lot of unknown factors here.
Yes, true. And maybe Highway volunteered too many times (volunteered!), maybe he fooled around with whores too much, maybe he didn't show his love to Aggie enough.... I fully agree with the unknown factors here!

  I think this whole debate is a bit difficult. Apparently, I'm completely missing the comedy and fun of this movie, since everytime I quote a line from the film that supports my view, I'm reminded that I missed the joke. Probably that is my main problem. I don't think this movie is funny at all. And if we are supposed to debate wether a true love relationship can happen, it's somewhat difficult if everything is but comedy. I'm saying that because the next line I'll quote will certainly be a missed joke again.
Highway says to Stitch, about his choice to stay in the marines:
Quote
You are also a lot dumber than I thought
So, I interpreted this as Gunny realizing that the marines are not everything on earth, and that because of the marines he's missed a whole life. I suppose you (mgk and Matt) look at it as a proof that Gunny feels  indeed as a father figure to Stitch, and hides his pride behind this joke.  So, really, I guess we are just as in real life, here. Both of you like Gunny Highway, and interpret and understand him in a positive way. Whereas I think Gunny has a very low emotional competence, and thus see proof for this in a lot of lines. There is no use in trying to persuade anyone of ones point of view, because that's simply a matter of taste and interpretation. There are too many unknowns, and none of us knows if all these lines were really meant as jokes, or if they had some truth in them.
  But thank you for trying to show me the qualities of Highway  :D
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Matt
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2004, 12:59:59 PM »

In my field (I'm trained and work with people who suffer from substance abuse) the term "alcoholism" is never used, it's called "alcohol dependence", the difference, and as I wrote in my post above, is a physiological dependence on alcohol. There is a difference between a heavy drinker who isn't dependent on alcohol, and someone who is. I don't see that Gunny needs alcohol or shows any signs of withdrawal when he goes without, as he did in Grenada.

Not only does Gunny feel himself to be a father figure to his troops, but there's a point in the film where they start looking up to him as a father figure. They look for him to lead them, teach them, and guide them, and they learn from him. They grow as men under his leadership, become more self-confident and proud of themselves and at least Stitch wants to follow in his footsteps. These show him to be the very definition of a father figure.
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2004, 01:16:38 PM »

I suppose you (mgk and Matt) look at it as a proof that Gunny feels  indeed as a father figure to Stitch, and hides his pride behind this joke.

I think she's getting it now.  ;)
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mgk
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2004, 02:15:41 PM »

No, I don't think we'll ever agree on the alcoholism issue.  I've known a few alcoholics over the years and most of those can't function without that drink or at least knowing that they will be able to get to it soon.  I just don't see Gunny that way at all.  Sure he gets drunk and he winds up in jail but that just shows that he's going to do what he wants to, when he wants to, no matter what anyone else says.....especially civilian authority.  He's not drunk on the job for at least two reasons:  (1)  he doesn't need it, is not dependent on it; (2) he respects military authority and his career.  Enough said on alcoholism.  We'll just have to agree to disagree.

I think the major thing contributing to us seeing everything about this movie differently is that you don't like this movie and I do.  If I recall, you have said in some of your posts that you like the softer Eastwood movies and do not particularly like his movies that deal with heroism and machoism.  Heartbreak Ridge is all about machoism....Eastwood even says so himself.  

And, from your own words,

Quote
Apparently, I'm completely missing the comedy and fun of this movie, since everytime I quote a line from the film that supports my view, I'm reminded that I missed the joke.

No, you're not getting the jokes.  This movie has a lot of humor in it.  A lot of serious issues are made more comfortable through jokes, through humor.  And, very important to all of this is the fact that Eastwood is in some ways making fun of the false machoism of his character.  His caring about other people, especially his group of misfits, is delibertately done in the most subtle of manners.  Gunny Highway is not a man who admits to being tender hearted or caring and Eastwood is saying, with tongue-in-cheek, that Highway's attitude toward machoism is a bunch of baloney.

Quote
Highway could have turned the Swede and Aponte in, and he didn't. I don't think he didn't do it because he especially cared for them as persons (and why would he care about the Swede, someone please explain?).

Okay, I will.  Highway sees Swede as a misguided young man who stays in trouble from fighting all the time.  He's goaded by his fellow recons to boast about his ability to fight anyone and beat them.  Well, he runs into someone who is just a little tougher and more mature.  Highway wants to try and make a soldier out of this man and give him a chance to fight something worthwhile instead of fighting with everyone for no good reason.  He wants to give him some guidance and give him the opportunity to make better decisions later on in his life.

Quote
Highway says to Stitch, about his choice to stay in the marines:

Quote:

You are also a lot dumber than I thought
 

So, I interpreted this as Gunny realizing that the marines are not everything on earth, and that because of the marines he's missed a whole life. I suppose you (mgk and Matt) look at it as a proof that Gunny feels  indeed as a father figure to Stitch, and hides his pride behind this joke.

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Gunny is saying that the Marines are not everything on earth.  I think it's kind of like "be careful what you wish for.......you just might get it."  Being in the Marines is a tough job.  Gunny knows that better than anyone and he's hoping that Stitch realizes what he's getting into.

Quote
So, really, I guess we are just as in real life, here. Both of you like Gunny Highway, and interpret and understand him in a positive way. Whereas I think Gunny has a very low emotional competence, and thus see proof for this in a lot of lines.

Yep, just like in real life. And, I think Matt and I are right in both cases. It comes with a deeper understanding than what's only shown on the surface.

Quote
But thank you for trying to show me the qualities of Highway  

Anytime.  :D
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Matt
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2004, 02:21:57 PM »

Highway sees Swede as a misguided young man who stays in trouble from fighting all the time.  He's goaded by his fellow recons to boast about his ability to fight anyone and beat them.  Well, he runs into someone who is just a little tougher and more mature.  Highway wants to try and make a soldier out of this man and give him a chance to fight something worthwhile instead of fighting with everyone for no good reason.  He wants to give him some guidance and give him the opportunity to make better decisions later on in his life.

I also think he may see a bit of himself in Swede...  he's full of bravado, but underneath is a man with good qualities, like himself. I think when Swede said he'd wait outside for the M.P's, Gunny respected that and wanted to help him. And when Swede realized he wasn't going to be reported although Gunny had every right to, he also realized that he was looking at a man unlike the others... someone that he, too, could respect.
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dane with no name
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2004, 05:23:24 PM »

It is never mentioned HOW much time highway has left in the marines, that is a serious issue. a few months left might not pose a problem (besides highway seems contend with his life now) but if it was several years it might do. Still aggie said that any relationship would continue on her terms which may keep highway somewhat back in line, the only question is how long he would play ball if he still had several years with recon...
I go for the happy-ever-after story. Few of clints characters has deserved this more than gunny highway...
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2004, 11:38:40 AM »

Several people have brought up the point that it depends on how long Gunny has left in the Marines whether he and Aggie can get back together and have any chance at a sucessful relationship.  I don't think he has much time left at all; in fact, I think that he is done when he returns from the Grenada encounter......at least no more than a few weeks for the paper work to be done.

I base this on several scenes.  In one of the first scenes, at the beginning of the movie, when his commanding officer calls him in to tell him that his request has been accepted to be transferred "home," this officer says to him:

Quote
MAJOR DEVIN:  What do you got now, about 24, don't ya, Highway?

GUNNY:  And then some, sir.

MAJOR DEVIN:  You know, some men in your position would look forward to retirement.

That sounds to me like Gunny is either "at" retirement or very close.

The next scene which reinforces this idea is when Gunny meets Maj. Powers for the first time:

Quote
MAJ. POWERS:  The last sergeant was an old time combat vet, too.  But, he went R.O.A.D. on me.  Retired on Active Duty.  Had a few months to retirement, figured he'd coast.  Allowed the men to lapse into mediocrity.  You're close to mandatory retirement yourself, aren't you Highway?

GUNNY:  That's right, major.

This also suggests that Gunny is close to the end of his military career and will have to retire.

But, the scene at the end of the movie after Gunny has returned to the U.S. from Grenada and is talking to Stitch about future plans, reinforces this idea the most:

Quote
GUNNY:  Well, you'll be a civilian soon. Let your hair grow long,
sleep late, and become an @#!hole rock and roll star.

STITCH:  Sergeant Major Choozoo gave me some re-ap papers.

GUNNY:   And you signed them?

STITCH:  Tell you the truth Gunny, I'm a better Marine than I ever was a
singer.

GUNNY:  You're also a lot dumber than I thought you were too.

STITCH:  What about you?

GUNNY:  Nah, I've had it. No room in this man's Corps for me now.  
Besides, they've got you.

I always had the feeling that, when he and Aggie walk away together, Gunny's military career is over at that point.  There may be a few weeks before he is formally given his retirement papers but that's about all.

This gives Tom and Aggie a fresh start without the Marines being Gunny's career anymore.  A new start.....maybe even that little avocado farm can be what he and Aggie end up doing.

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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2004, 01:44:07 PM »

I agree, Mary. I also feel that maybe Aggie is more willing to give their relationship a second chance because she knows that Gunny won't be in the marines much longer...she has made it very clear that she went through a lot as the wife of a marine and she doesn't wish to go through it again. I am not entirely convinced that she and Gunny would be as likely to get back together if he was younger, and/or had more time left in the marines. Much as she loved him back then, ultimately it wasn't enough to get through anything, though of course, it must have been hard for both of them. Do we know who made the decision to break up? I don't remember hearing that in the film. I kind of get the impression that Aggie was the most bitter and made the break, although we don't hear as much from Gunny on the subject as we do from Aggie.

On the subject of their future...I think, I hope, that they will stick it out together. I think that perhaps they need each other now more than ever before. Perhaps Gunny is arguably more vulnerable than before because his career is coming to an end - what will he do? He acknowledges to Aggie that he doesn't know what the future holds. But I think the fact that they face it together makes things less uncertain...they can give each other the the security they both need. The only thing I wonder about, as just stated, is, what will Gunny do? Will he be content to just be with Aggie? Part of me feels that Gunny needs to be doing something...it's in his blood. He does seem to be coming to terms with his retirement by the end of the film, however, as evidenced by his comment to Stitch (I'll quote it again just to make this point)

Quote
Gunny: Nah, I've had it. No room in this man's Corps for me now.  
Besides, they've got you.
Or, is he just humouring Stitch? ;)
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2004, 01:52:39 PM »

When Gunny says:

Quote
Besides, they've got you.

I think he is just humoring Stitich.  But, I think he means the first part:

Quote
Gunny: Nah, I've had it. No room in this man's Corps for me now.

He could have said a lot of things here like, "No, I think I'll hang it up," or, "Nah, think I'll try something else."  But, the fact that he made sure he said that there was no room in this man's Corps for me now really makes me think that's what he truly believes.....the Marines aren't for him anymore.  He's a man in a glass box that needs to be broken in case of war and that's not the kind of Marine life he has anymore.
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allycat
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2004, 02:06:12 PM »

Well, I think I was just wondering about the words Gunny uses. 'No room in this man's Corps for me now.' It still sort of says to me that he's perhaps slightly bitter about it...I mean, 'this man's Corps.' As though it doesn't belong to everyone. There's no place for Gunny anymore. Which, even if he's resigned to it, sounds rather negative, doesn't it?

But then, everyone seems to get made redundant when they've reached that kind of age. Like there's no place for you just because you're older, when before, age used to equal experience. That's how Gunny feels. It's a funny term, being made 'redundant.' The actual word suggests not being of use anymore...
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