What ensued was an experience so
moving, so unusual that it would change Lt.Col.Strobl's
life forever. According to Strobl the movie depicts the
events so accurately that as he watched the production
get underway it was like a d�j�-vu.
Oscar nominated director Ross Katz
handled the deep message of the production masterfully
and with respect for the young Lance Corporal and his
parents, John Phelps and Gretchen Mack. He didn't miss
the peculiar thematic overlay to the story that emerged
as a surprise to Lt.Col.Strobl and to anyone who decides
to see this film.
The synopsis of the movie is simply
the events and more importantly the reactions of those
Lt.Col.Strobl encounters as he escorts the body of
Corporal Phelps on his long journey home. At each point
of transfer the casket encounters new people and new
reactions each is a story in itself.
Well noted is the films attention
to the details afforded to the remains by the military
escort service. Each leg of the trip is meticulously
carried out in the utmost respect for the fallen soldier
and every detail is carefully checked and re-checked so
nothing can be left out or get out of hand.
You will find yourself swelling
with pride for the young soldier who although
accompanied by a much higher ranking officer seems like
the greater man by virtue of his sacrifice. It is a case
of deed out shining rank and Kevin Bacon plays into that
theme with complete cognizance of that aspect of the
Along with the honor that is
carefully afforded to the remains of Chance Phelps by
the Military escort is the remarkable sense of deep
respect and gratefulness that complete strangers show
the Corporal along the way. Many of them are not even
told what is going on specifically but they sense that a
hero is nearby and their responses are so unusual that
to describe any of them might spoil the film for the
Suffice it to say that Kevin Bacon
provides a stellar performance and HBO was highly
sensitive to the depth of the story more than anyone
might expect. The military's care of the remains is
something few people know anything about and after
watching this film no one will ever doubt that they
handle these details with a reverence and honor that is
nothing short of incredible.
The unusual by-product of this
flick is how everyday Americans respond to their heroes.
It will inspire anyone with only an ounce of patriotism
and it will assure many Americans that lots of people in
the US are still deeply patriotic.
Speaking for myself I felt proud
throughout the film but at times I was overwhelmed by
shame. The shame came from thoughts of recent events in
America that seem to be turning the tide toward
socialism and wholesale prurient interests. I had the
feeling that we, all 300 million of us must not let this
single soldiers death be in vain.
I felt that all America ever was
all that it started out to be and all it might ever be
was embodied in this young dead soldier who had given
his all. I suspect that anyone who loves this country
will feel exactly the same as I did. I call this a must
see film not because I was entertained but strictly
because my life will forever be made better for watching