In my life I’ve only ever walked out of one movie, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. I was 13 years old and went to see it with my grandma Bunny and my mom. My mom had driven south from Portland to LA to pick me up from summer camp and we were staying with Bunny for a couple of days in Woodland Hills before heading back home. Unforgiven features a great deal of horror and violence and it was too much for me back then. Half way through I leaned over to my mom that I couldn’t watch anymore and left. I slipped into the theater across the hall and spent the next hour watching that summer’s inane hit, HouseSitter.
Tonight I went to see a preview screening of Flags of our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s newest movie. I sat through the movie with my stomach churning, fingers splayed in front of my eyes in an attempt to avoid seeing some of the worst moments. I felt a lot like I had when I was thirteen, and had not been the fifth person in the row, I might have stepped out for a minute or two in the middle. Several times I had to consciously think the words, “breath deeply Marisa, this is only a movie.”
These days I have a little more distance and perspective with which to watch a movie like this, and I started to see it as a distinctly anti-war movie (some said that Unforgiven was statement against violence, I wasn’t able to see it at the time). In depicting, with absolute specificity, the graphic nature of war and death, he shows the level to which we waste humanity when we send young people into battle. We experience the relationships that the men in the movie have with one another, and when they are killed, it feels for a moment as if we have experienced a real loss as well. It’s not a movie I think I will ever need to watch again, but I’m grateful to have had the experience of it.