LOS ANGELES -
Lights, camera, action! ... a
helmet and flak jacket would be very useful, too.
If a war breaks out in Iraq, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
plan to film soldiers on the front lines of battle and bring
their stories to movie audiences in video spots similar to the
old Movietone film reels made during World War II, people
involved with the effort said on Wednesday.
The idea, explained Marine Lt. Colonel James Kuhn, is to
show people the real images of war and put a human face on the
men and women fighting it.
"It's intended to fulfill the Navy and Marine Corps
obligation to maintain a strong tie to the public, to let them
know what we're doing," Kuhn said. "It's an opportunity for
people to hear how the soldiers feel about what they do."
The reels, too, will give audiences the chance to see what
actually happens in battle as it happens -- bullets flying,
bombs blasting and people being put in harm's way.
The effort stems from a roughly five-minute short film the
Navy and Marines made after the Sept. 11 attacks and the
U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan called "Enduring Freedom --
The Opening Chapter."
That film played in about 200 Regal Entertainment Group
theaters equipped with digital projection equipment last year,
and through word-of-mouth publicity, it has become a hit at
public events, business conferences and private seminars, Kuhn
Lance O'Connor, a partner in Santa Monica, California-based
American Rogue Films, which trained and equipped soldiers with
new high-definition digital cameras to shoot the video, said
the reels will be made in the same vein as documentaries.
"It's not about propaganda, it's about documentary work. If
it were propaganda, it wouldn't work," he said.
Kuhn agreed. "It's not being done to create a statement on
policy one way or the other," he said.
O'Connor's company put together "Enduring Freedom," and for
years has made promotional spots for the U.S. military.
He said "Enduring Freedom" includes live footage of battles
in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and that similarly, the camera crews
for this new effort will be in the middle of the action.
"Our guys are going straight to the front ... secret
operations, Navy SEALs, whatever is going over on the first
tier (of operations), we're going to film it," he said.
While "hard combat" will be featured, the men and women
doing the fighting also will tell personal stories of how they
feel about war and about serving their country, Kuhn said.
"It's a story of who these people are and why they do what
they do," he said.
A spokeswoman for Regal CineMedia, the Regal division that
outfits theaters with new digital projection systems, said her
company does not yet have plans to show the films, but is
talking with the Navy and Marines about doing so.
"I'm sure those discussions will continue to go forward,
Kuhn said the films will be available to the general
public, anyway, regardless of whether movie theaters decide to
screen them ahead of films.
The military has a long history of battle photography
dating back to the Civil War, and in 1944, a Marine staff
sergeant won an Oscar for a World War II short, "With the
Marines at Tarawa."
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd