On coaching maneuvers within the bayou, a gaggle of Louisiana Nationwide Guardsmen wander away and take the boats of the native Cajun hunters with out their permission. When one of many newbie troopers blank-shoots the offended natives as a “joke”, they retaliate with lethal power, plunging the hapless weekend warriors right into a state of affairs of true guerrilla warfare.
Initially launched in September 1981, Southern Consolation was the final movie in director Walter Hill’s first collection of cult motion classics earlier than the field workplace hit of 48 Hours of 1982 catapulted it into mainstream audiences ( with considerably blended outcomes). A gifted screenwriter and director, Hill’s first massive hit was his screenplay for Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway. Like Peckinpah, Hill’s work often celebrates and critiques masculinity in occasions of disaster, and Southern Consolation isn’t any exception, combining a violent floor with a extra considerate dissection of battle and survival.
We first meet the protagonists who bicker amongst themselves as they put together for his or her train. Self-discipline is poor, with passive-aggressive teasing taking the place of camaraderie. Outsider Hardin (Powers Boothe), who transferred from El Paso, sums up the band as “Louisiana versions of the same stupid rednecks I’ve been around all my life.” The boats they steal are present in a makeshift encampment affected by slaughtered animal corpses – pictures that recur all through the movie. The symbolism is not refined: most of those males are doomed, hopelessly out of their depth as soon as actuality creeps into their macho fantasies.
Alongside the easy-going and self-aware Spencer (Keith Carradine), Hardin is the closest factor the movie has to a hero. Whereas useful with a knife, Hardin’s character subverts most of the clichés anticipated of the function. He’s clever, knowledgeable chemical engineer, loyal to his spouse and despising the poisonous postures that encompass him. These attributes by no means undermine his survival abilities or integrity, with the movie emphasizing that the mind is as precious because the muscle tissue, with blind brutality not an alternative choice to rational judgment. Nevertheless, even Hardin shouldn’t be infallible; shrouded in symbolic fog, his lowest instincts rise to the floor when he faces bullying Reece (Fred Ward).
“Southern Comfort is both a superb thriller and a sneaky commentary on male violence, nationality and war.”
With its interval decor, ill-prepared troops, hostile terrain, and guerrilla “enemy”, Southern Consolation has usually been interpreted as a damning allegory of the Vietnam Battle. The troopers are misplaced within the swamps, each actually and metaphorically, ill-equipped and deeper and deeper into uncharted territory. They disdainfully ignore native French audio system, understanding neither their language nor their tradition. Their failed raid on a suspicious searching lodge solely targets a helpless one-armed trapper (Brion James).
They beat him up slightly than query him, and the troubled rookie Bowden (Carlos Brown) destroys his cabin in a completely pointless and self-defeating act of revenge, wiping out provides they may have used and punishing a person whose guilt has not been established. . The hapless Sergeant Casper (Les Lannoms) could possibly be seen as representing the naive hawks of the American political institution. Pushed into command by unexpected occasions, Casper can solely cite coaching manuals and threaten his males with more and more irrelevant courts martial, unable to regulate to actuality or preserve his authority as occasions slip away. underneath its management.
Hill himself has at all times remained silent on whether or not the movie was supposed to be a commentary on Vietnam. Admittedly, the movie resists multiple interpretation. His personal trailer compares him to John Boorman’s Deliverance, with which he shares themes of survival and the marketing campaign that “hits back” towards aliens.
In contrast to Deliverance, nonetheless, the individuals of Southern Consolation aren’t portrayed as inbred villains. They’re proven to have their very own tradition and dignity regardless of the tough surroundings, and they don’t seem to be silly – they perceive English, whereas troopers can barely interpret their French. They aren’t the preliminary aggressors, however when woke up they show to be much more resourceful, ruthless and crafty than the Nationwide Guards. Regardless of being their fellow People, the troopers view Cajuns as outsiders and inferiors, elevating pertinent questions as to who really “owns” a nationality and the prices of a society that doesn’t tolerate and respect. not the distinction.
Southern Consolation takes its issues in a misleading approach evenly, by no means working them out on the expense of pressure and momentum. Hill’s movie is distinctively budget-friendly and understated, backed up by stable performances and spiky pictures by Andrew Laszlo, capturing the claustrophobia of the countless gray-green swamps. Ry Cooder’s eerily calm and stealthy rating provides immeasurable environment, his buzzing guitar and Chinese language flute mingling with the pure sounds of the bayou, as if the panorama itself stalks the characters. Constructing on a hair-raising climax, the movie presents itself as each an excellent thriller and a devious commentary on male violence, nationality and battle.
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