The Big Red One

The Big Red One (1980) movie poster

(1980) dir. Samuel Fuller
viewed: 07/17/2005

Sam Fuller is an interesting, but mixed bag. Iconoclast, bizarro, myriad of interesting, challenging things. He’s kind of like some weird uncle, or utter outsider who lacks perfectionism (which I mostly admire). I have mixed feelings toward him, though I have long harbored and interst to see his last big film, The Big Red One.

In reading about it, it is interesting in regards to what conventions it broke for the war film. It’s hard to have that perspective now, in the wake of the genre’s expansion specifically regarding the Vietnam War. War isn’t glorified, necesarilly, nor are the soldiers, anymore. The genre is not a favorite of mine, so I am not as familiar with the conventions, nor the altered conventions.

In watching this movie fresh, in 2005, it seems low-budget, which it was to some extent, keeping the focus on tighter scenes, no glorious extravaganzas. It does focus on the soldiers and their adventure by adventure story. In a sense, it’s picaresque almost, following the five soldiers from exploit to exploit, surviving and living to tell the tale. The soldiers aren’t quite so easy to connect with, however. Their emotional distance, though contraposed with great camaraderie, is quite evident in the tone of the film.

Lee Marvin really holds the film together. And it’s an interesting film. Not a great film, but an interesting one.

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