Culture Military

Movies on Deployments

Deployments: experiences may vary.

A trip to Afghanistan could mean rucking mountains, sleeping on rocks, and waking up to incoming mortar fire. It could also mean fun-runs at base, sleeping on mattresses, and sleeping in every day. Deployments can look totally different from branch to branch, unit to unit, and deployment to deployment. Modern Ranger deployments are their own unique brand, and while they involve a whole lot of work, they sometimes include a decent amount of downtime. This is where guys make frequent trips to the gym, getting in the best shape of their lives, and where they play countless hours of video games or spend hours talking about anything and everything.

No matter how busy our deployments were, somehow we always found time for a whole lot of movies.

There are a lot of shows and films you’d find on our list that you would expect; Band of Brothers, The Last Samurai, Braveheart, and Lord of the Rings were among them. Of course, being in B Co, 3/75, Black Hawk Down was a classic. We’d also blast through series that we hadn’t seen before; another friend and I watched all the Harry Potter movies in a few days (mission days excluded).

And yet I would say that most Rangers typically saved war movies for when they were at home. Comedy was by far the most popular — if a movie was flickering on a screen in our hooch, you’d have a good chance that Will Ferrell was starring in it. Step Brothers, 21 Jump Street, Team America, The Hangover, Horrible Bosses, Anchorman, Ted, The Dictator… the list goes on and on.

The movie I saw played the most, hands down, was Pitch Perfect. Yes, the movie about a cappella pop songs sung by all-female college students. I distinctly remember walking into three separate rooms in the span of five minutes, and finding it being played on three separate screens.

An ideal Ranger movie, no doubt

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite classic films, Sullivan’s Travels, by Preston Sturges (spoilers ahead, go watch it first!). Joel Mcrea plays Sullivan, a comedy movie director who has grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He is determined to make drama films that “matter,” and so he sets out on a journey to experience the harsh side of life that he has been sheltered from for so long. The movie is funny and heartwarming, but the end is quite powerful — he discovers the value of comedy, and why it matters. Making people laugh is an invaluable part of the human experience, and he is honored to do it. In the end, he gains the experience he sought, but goes back to making comedies anyway.

He comes to this conclusion when he’s sitting amidst a chain gang as they relax during a rare break in their back-breaking work. The prison guards have put on a movie, and it’s one of his own comedies. He looks around at all the hard faces, men with rough hands, and sees them smile and laugh for the first time.

I’m a big film and literature guy — I love delving into The Matrix and finding its biblical parallels. I love to be moved by classic films, or to study cultural trends in modern films and TV. But these moments on those deployments taught me the value of a good laugh that doesn’t have to be rooted in the meaning of life or the nature of mankind.

Everyone needs a breath of fresh air every once in a while.

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homanj1
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homanj1

Luke-I too watch all the Will Farrell’s, Dumb and Dumber, and Smokey and the Bandit every time. Just for laughs. I do get caught up in the series’ that are available now. True detective, Fargo, outlander, etc. but not Harry Potter. Frankly, I find myself reading a significant amount right now. Mostly because it’s hard to avoid the daily Breaking News when I flip on the TV. And I don’t dig soap operas……

Miche
Member
Miche

I find myself using the excuse “I don’t have time for tv or going to movies” with family and friends who can’t believe I don’t know the latest pop culture references…. only to catch myself spending hours reading a good book, haha.

homanj1
Member
homanj1

I’m reading CJ Box right now, the Joe Pickett series. Fun read and I met the author a couple weeks ago.

Miche
Member
Miche

Ooo, game warden mysteries in Wyoming, that sounds fun. I’m reading Beyond the 100th Meridian by Wallace Stegner. I’ve kind of been on a Western-geology reading kick lately.

homanj1
Member
homanj1

CJ writes a lot like Lee Childs the author of the Jack Reacher series. Quick and easy read and the good guys always win…..

Miche
Member
Miche

Heh… and in two sentences, you’ve sold me on CJ. 🙂

Mic-Mac
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Mic-Mac

Your article made me think about some of my fav comedies. One of my all time “The Dream Team” with Michael Keaton. I can imagine that when at war watching comedy is far more relaxing than war movies unless it has a humorous edge.

Miche
Member
Miche

I’ve never seen Pitch Perfect all the way through. My niece and all her girl cousins were over the moon about it and were excited to watch it for the 100th time. About 20 minutes in, my nephew gave me a pained, longsuffering look, and I laughed, and we snuck away to another room and watched one of the Avengers movies instead. (A few weeks ago I was telling my brother, their dad, this story, but I couldn’t remember the name of the movie. “You know, the one with the cup song?” And he knew EXACTLY which movie I was… Read more »

Joni Smith
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Joni Smith

I’m also trying to visualize a bunch of Rangers sitting around watching Pitch Perfect. It’s bringing laughter because it seems like an odd match. But then again my whole family watched a kids movie at Christmas last year and there was really only one kid and she got bored and went off to play while the adults stayed to watch the movie. Or the time my niece got a Barbie band and we all had to “play like” we were in her rock band. (My Dad was the best.) Anyway Rangers or family watching movies, or pretending to be a… Read more »

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