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André De Toth
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow Marine recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting set in 1968 in Hue, Vietnam.
Blessed By Fire is the story of two young men sent to fight the 1982 war in the Falkland Islands (or as they are known in Argentina, the Malvinas) who return home bearing the brutal scars of war. Twenty years after the war's end, journalist Esteban Leguizamón is informed that Alberto Vargas, one of the men he served with, has attempted to commit suicide after suffering from years of depression brought on by his experiences in the war. Esteban visits the comatose Vargas at the hospital, and in a series of extended flashbacks, revisits the scene of Argentina's "unwinnable war." Esteban and fellow soldiers Vargas and Juan are living in foxholes on the remote, windswept Falklands, battling hunger, boredom, abuse, and the deprivations of war as they await the arrival of British forces. A series of harrowing battle scenes with British forces ensue, and the Argentines realize the futility and violence of their mission. They're cannon fodder, overwhelmed, outnumbered, pawns in a futile ... Written by
Koch Lorber Films
Leguizamón mentions that over 290 veterans had committed suicide after the war, and indicates that this is the same as the name number of casualties there during the war. Argentine casualties during the war totalled 649, of which 321 were killed when the General Belgrano was sunk. If Leguizamón was counting only the casualties on the Falklands themselves, his figure is roughly correct. Source: Wikipedia See more »
The sweat patterns on Leguizamón's jacket change in the two shots immediately after he leaves the infirmary. See more »
Not many war films are made about the terrors of the Falkland, or Malvinas, war. Neither are war films as poignant and thought-provoking as Blessed by Fire.
War films are so regularly hybrid with other genres, whether its romance, politics, bravery, historical drama, art, or even comedy. This can make them entertaining, such as Apocalypse Now, or silly, like Pearl Harbour. Done to make more sales, make a political statement, to boast a big budget or glamorise real warfare, it's always a gamble if the war film is worth watching.
I was pleased to have come across Blessed by Fire. I hadn't heard much about it but I was interested in watching a movie about the Falklands War. It's told from the Argentine perspective and based on the memoirs of the soldier, Esteban Leguizamón, played by Gastón Pauls. Twenty years after the war, Leguizamón is contacted to visit his old comrade Alberto Vargas (Pablo Ribba) who is in a coma after attempted suicide. Through flashbacks and newsreels, Leguizamón remembers the ill-treatment by superiors, how his friends would talk of their futures, families and livelihoods, their fear of the invading British armies, and the dank conditions they were living in. It also touches on the neglect soldiers face after the war from their government bad pensions and no career options. What it does magnificently is touch on the mental horrors of war - the anger and psychological scars that war causes and without a glamorisation in sight. Another political issue it touches on at the end is the live mines and rusting ammunition left over beautiful landscapes, and how nothing has been done to get rid of them. The political slant against Maggie Thatcher and her reasons for war are thrown in there whether it's for good measure, I'm unsure. But the result of the war has tarnished political relations between Britain and Argentina for many years, and it is a sensitive issue, particularly for Argentineans.
It was a film made on a budget, so some of the acting is slightly amateur but believable. The special affects are okay, but in moments of excitement, the lighting doesn't always make it clear what is going on. However, the sets are gloomy enough to be realistic and the photography of the Falklands is fantastic.
It's a symbol of what war is really about. Not the most exciting. But realism and heroism, without glamour. I give this film 9!
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