Salvador Politics in Film Braunwarth
Salvador • Oliver Stone Film, 1986 • Based on real life experiences of journalist Rick Boyle covering the brutal civil war in El Salvador in the early 1980s • Many of the events actually occurred: • Killing of Archbishop Romero • Attack on the nuns • Massive killing by paramilitary death squads (with U.S. military and financial support) and dumping of bodies at El Playon • By 1984 65,000 civilians were killed and • 750,000 fled the country, 500,000 ended up in the U.S.
Salvador • Note the frenetic music and visuals (especially in the opening scene) to create tension • Note the differences in color, lighting, mood when covering the rebels in the countryside and the military in the cities
Salvador • Note how the Reagan Doctrine led to our involvement in El Salvador • The characters in Salvador each epitomize different perspectives about the means and the ends U.S. foreign policy • Richard Boyle? • That we should not hurt others in the pursuit of an ideology • Jack Morgan, Col. Hyde, and Reagan? • We need to be vigilant in our fight against communism or the communists will take over • We can’t be distracted by concerns like human rights
Salvador • Note the contrasting perspectives of Archbishop Romero and Major Max • What does Romero represent? • The concerns of the poor and the needy who are just trying to survive • Why is he considered a subversive? • His concerns interfere with the goals of the U.S. and the fight against communism • What is the purpose of Major Max in the film? • That the U.S. is willing to support a fascist thug if it furthers our goals
Salvador • Contrast the morality of Boyle and Doc with the more well-polished U.S. citizens • What message is Stone trying to send? • That personal private morality is a private affair and much less important than our public morality toward others • How do the motives of Pauline the TV journalist contrast with those of photo-journalists Richard Boyle and John Cassidy? • Pauline is only concerned about ratings by Boyle and Cassidy want to get out the truth • Reminiscent of what other films what other films we’ve seen? • What does this say about the information we receive from the mass news media?
Salvador • Again, note the use of a reporter to carry the storyline in both Green Berets and Salvador • Both undergo something of a catharsis • In the Green Berets the reporter comes to adopt the U.S. position • In Salvador, Boyle becomes less egocentric and more concerned with the plight of others • How does this reflect the theme of the film? • That we need to worry about the well being of those we are supposed to be helping
Salvador • Why the references to Vietnam throughout the film? • Again the need to fight communism and that El Salvador might be a similar quagmire (it wasn’t) • Is our current conflict in Iraq more like El Salvador or Vietnam? • The level of troop involvement in a country without a functioning government is more similar to the situation in Vietnam • One pentagon proposal calls for U.S. special forces to train Iraqi para-military units (patterned after the ones in El Salvador) to prosecute the war for us (like in El Salvador)