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Kwok Kuen Chan,
Tien Lung Chen
A new commanding officer arrives at a remote castle serving as an insane asylum for crazy and AWOL U.S. Army soldiers where he attempts to rehabilitate them by allowing them to live out their crazy fantasies while combating his own long-suppressed insanity. Written by
****SPOILERS ALERT**** Arriving at a secret military instillation in the cold and rainy Pacific North-West that looks like a medieval castle Col. Vincent Kane, Stacy Keach, takes charge of mental therapy for those mentally broken servicemen incarcerated there who's psychosis is due to their military experiences.
Right from the start everyone notices that there's something very strange about Col.Kane. He seems to have no emotions at all and talks in a mechanical like monotone that doesn't seem normal even among those servicemen with severe mental illness that are interned there. Allowing the patients to act out their fantasies seems too much for the staff as well as the inmates themselves. These inmates who in spite of their obnoxious behavior soon begin to realize their own psychological and emotional problems due to Col. Kane's unorthodox methods. Col. Kane by letting the inmates be free he made them see themselves for what they are by lifting all restrictions by the hospital staff that keeps them from seeing this and thus made it easier to cure them. Taking advantage of Col. Kane's meekness is one of the inmates Capt. Billy Cutshaw, Scott Wilson, an astronaut who broke down just before he was to blast off for the moon. We later see Capt. Cutshaw's real cause for his bravado is really his fear. Fear of being alone in space a loneliness that was just too dark and overwhelming for him to understand or face.
Capt. Cutshaw and Col. Kane have some of the most penetrating and thought-provoking talks I've ever seen or heard in a movie. The two have long conversations about love hate guilt good and evil as well as the existence or non-existence of God that are so eye, and mind, opening that for a moment I didn't think that I was watching a movie but seeing an intellectual and philosophical talk show discussion on late night public TV. As the movie continues with those on the screen, as well as the audience, in a state of confusion to just what it's trying to tell us it hit's us unsuspectingly like a lighting bolt out of nowhere. We get to see the real truth about Col. Kane and what are his reasons for him being in the hospital in the first place.
Very intelligent film about mental illness and how it manifests itself in so many different ways in how the mind works to keep the body from falling apart due to things that one just does not want to face. It would take a number of viewings of "The Ninth Configuration" to see this but it's well worth it.
We see both Col.Kane and Capt. Cutshaw go from denying their deepest fears to, in the end, understanding them. It took Col. Kane's willing and unselfish sacrifice for Capt. Cutshaw to see the light that he denied himself about the good that man has deep inside of him that was stronger then any argument, ethical philosophical or logical, that Capt. Cutshaw could make against it. It also took the truth about himself that Col. Kane tried to suppress since he was in Vietnam that in the end saved Capt. Cutshaw's life as well as redeemed himself.
Powerful and mind blowing film with an explosive bar-room brawl towards the end of the movie that went the limit in showing on film the Biblical saying "Turn the Other Cheek"! As well as an ending that showed that there truly is hope and redemption in the world even to those lost souls who don't believe or want it.
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