"No Combat. No Politics. And a Naked Marine in a Santa Claus Hat. What Kind of War Movie is This?" -- Entertainment Weekly Cover Blurb, Nov. 4, 2005
" … But it's something of a joke to think that you can in any way separate the war in Iraq from politics—there would be no boots on the ground, and no bodies under the ground, if it weren't for politics, and it is a mistake to imply that a political viewpoint is a narrow one, or, somehow, a less creative one. Not to mention that denying the impact of politics on a war story—on this war story—is itself a political act." -- Nancy Franklin, on the FX series Over There in “On Television: The Yanks are Coming,” The New Yorker, Aug. 01 2005
Directed by Sam Mendes, Jarhead is based on the memoirs of Anthony Swofford, a Marine scout/sniper who served in the first Gulf War as one of the hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in Saudi Arabia to help protect it from Iraqi aggression. Which meant that Swofford waited … and waited … and waited.
The gambit of making a film about the last war as a way to talk about the current war is an old one – M*A*S*H may be set in Korea, but it's about Vietnam; Grand Illusion's World War I drama has as much to say about the Europe it was made in as it does about the Europe it was set in. Jarhead looks back to the early '90s and war with Iraq, but it never really looks at the fact we are back at war with Iraq; what you get is a film that feels less authentic than it does opportunistic, less conscious than crafted, a movie that wants to sell itself as having ripped-from-the-headlines urgency even as it carefully, daintily, dances around fresh graves.