Monday, November 12, 2018

We, the Marines

It’s Veteran’s Day (observed)—do you know any veterans to thank? Do you know them well enough for it not to be awkward? For many, the answer is increasingly no. We are able to fight wars with an entirely volunteer military. In most respects, that is a good thing, but it means a steadily widening social chasm has opened up between veterans and military families on one side and civilians with no personal perspective on service across the divide. That is not healthy for our society. If you want at least a small taste of what it is like to train and deploy as a U.S. Marine, viewers can watch Greg MacGillivray’s short IMAX documentary, We, the Marines (trailer here), which screens at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and streams on Netflix.

Narrated by the great Gene Hackman (once a Marine, always a Marine, so don’t call him a “former” anything), We, the Marines follows the arrival of fresh recruits at Paris Island and new officer candidates at Quantico. Yes, it is tough, but anything less would be irresponsible. We get a taste of how arduous the physical training gets as well as a (most likely sanitized) selection from the motivation drill sergeants provide, but it has to be hard, considering we are training young people probably one-half or maybe even one-third your age to serve under warfighting conditions.

They do look young too. Watching We, the Marines should make viewers understand how much we demand of these men and women, mostly fresh out of high school or college. If they are not perfect 100 percent during their deployments, they will be crucified by the media and politicians eager to discredit their mission. When was the last time you were perfect in your job? Ever?

We, the Marines incorporates a little bit of actual combat footage, but it mostly focuses on boot camp and the process of physically delivering Marines to a theater of combat. There is plenty of good IMAX footage of modern military hardware that should interest Jane’s Defense readers, plus, there is also an extended sequence featuring dog-handling training, which is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

At 38-minutes, MacGillivray’s film only scratches the surface of the Marine experience, but at least it is a start. It looks good and has respect, which is more than you can say for so many recent genre movie depictions of veterans. Recommended for general audiences, We, The Marines screens daily at the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ Medal of Honor Theater and it streams on Netflix.