As a process, the range of readings will foster a questioning mind for the reader, an awareness of details, and the realization that the question of "why" must be asked of conclusions drawn by each writer. It is only by this method that an event, such as a historical incidence, can cultivate an evolving thesis, or an accumulation of evidence to support claims of both the writers and the reader.
This paper aims to critically review the rhetoric of the movie Casualties of War (1989), especially with regard to the rhetoric of two other texts, Vietnam voices; Perspectives on the War Years, 1941-1982 (1984) and The Fog of War: 11 Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003). Firstly, Casualties of War will be critiqued in relation to details drew the reader's Notice and informed them of the writer's Method, and way of linking Evidence and Claims. Secondly, two other texts shall be critically reviewed in a similar fashion. Finally, a conclusion shall synthesize the main points of the texts, and show support for how the reading across texts of a historical event can better inform a reader as to how the stories a person tells are
The movie Casualties of War does not overly provide an abundance of detail about the Vietnam War of 1962-1972. Overall, it is a movie that "tells" rather than "shows" the reader (i.e., person accessing the text) about what was experienced, as evident in the high use of evaluative adjectives and adverbs in the script (i.e., text). The movie seeks to share with the audience the ambiguous nature of war, and to highlight that those who may be portrayed by media and governments as the "heroes" or "saviors," could in fact be guilty of unethical and undemocratic behaviors that they accuse others of practicing. As such, the movie was more about war itself, and the realities that often go unreported, than about the Vietnam War itself.
From this viewpoint, the movie casts the Vietnam War as a dangerous place for marines, as well as a dangerous situation for the Vietnamese for who the marines are supposedly fighting for. It was a time where North American men could consider themselves truly free as they exist together in the field of war, at least if they lived. Casualties of War portrays the event as a 'war of consciousness,' thorough the eyes of one marine who bucks the chain of command. That the film is based on the true story of Private Daniel Lang aids in it achieving a high degree of realism and validity. Further, the film presents the war as dehumanizing to both victims and the perpetrators, and as being comprised of "sub-wars," within squads, and within the individual marines themselves. Ultimately the movie delivers a version of Vietnam not often tackled by Hollywood studios, that being sexual savagery of USA marines and the ignoring of moral values and democratic responses to crisis situations.
Patterns of repetition and contrast (Method) throughout the film were "individual responsibility" and "respecting the chain of command", two binary oppositions with regards to the military and war in general. For example, when Leguizamo at first refuses, and then takes part in the abduction and rape of a Vietnamese woman. These re-occurring themes served to emphasize the key points of