Mar 9, 2009

Taking Chance: Updated

I had the opportunity to sit down and watch this last night. One of Kathy's friends recorded it for me and I really appreciate her meeting with Kathy to hand it off.

To try and explain how much this movie just blew me away is tough. First of all, it is only 1 hour 18 minutes long. It focuses completely on Kevin Bacon's character of Michael Strobl, although there are other characters who play important, but short roles in the film.

Mike Strobl is a veteran of Desert Storm, but during the Iraq war has held a couple of posts here in the States. He feels conflicted from not going to Iraq, trying instead to stay with his family and children. All along the way during his escort duty he sees the support and respect given to the fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. His trip report morphs into something a bit more than that andbecomes his personnel journal. This is what the movie is created from.

The journey that Chance Phelps remains takes starts at the recovery center in Dover where he is taken care of by a team of people that must have the most difficult job in the world. They must try and clean up, embalm, do whatever they can to make the remains of a dead soldier as presentable as possible. All their personnel effects are meticulously cleaned, and a new uniform is tailor made for them. The person in charge of the detail then presents the personnel effects to the escort which they must carry on their person until delivered to the family. Then a recommendation is made to the escort on whether or not the fallen is presentable for viewing. There is a scene at the airport where Mike Strobl refuses to send the personnel effects through the x-ray, and refuses to remove his uniform jacket to go through the metal detector that is great.

My favorite scene is at the airport where Chance is being transferred from one plane to a smaller commuter plane on his journey home. Mike Strobl is waiting for Chance to be removed from the plane, and parked nearby is another plane with another escort, an enlisted man, doing the same wait. He walks over and the enlisted man comes to attention and salutes, then he and Mike start talking about the duty. The enlisted man says (paraphrasing here) it's like they all know when they look at you what you are doing. He refers to the looks and how people act around him. Then Mike Strobl asks who he is escorting, and it turns out he is bringing his own brother home.

There is a moment there with no dialog, and so much is said at the same time. Mike starts to try and say something a couple of times, knows that there really aren't any words, and then the two men turn and render honors to his brother, then to Chance. They shake and go away.

It is just a brilliant moment.

Another performance that is short, but impactful, is the guy that Mike meets who is the notification officer. That is the person who has the unfortunate duty of knocking on all of the doors of the parents or spouses of the fallen to tell them that they have been killed. The actor does a great job of showing the impact, and toll this takes on somebody who has to deliver bad news on a daily basis.

Here is a behind the scenes clip I found:



Go watch it, bring the box of kleenex.

Previous post:
There is a movie that will premier this Saturday on HBO that I would love to see, but I don't get HBO. If anybody wants to record it, I would gladly reimburse for the DVD and postage. Read about it here:
http://www.military.com/entertainment/taking-chance/



This look extremely emotional to me, and I have been a bit torn up at just watching the trailer. It reminds me of the Pulitzer Prize winning series the Rocky Mountain News did about accompanying fallen warriors home that I blogged about here.

15 comments:

  1. It looks good. I don't think we have HBO, though. (Pathetic that I don't know... I just don't watch much tv). I hope someone more tv savvy will be able to help you out!

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  2. No HBO here, which is probably good because it will save me from weeping while I watch it.

    It seems to me that I read an article last year about a body being escorted home and all the honors rendered by civilians along the way. This story seems familiar to me somehow.

    Thanks for posting it.

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  3. I'm looking forward to seeing this. I have HBO, but not a DVD recorder. Sorry.

    I'm sure it will be available for rent soon, though.

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  4. That does look good. I don't have HBO. Sorry.

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  5. That really does look good! But alas, I'm with you and the others who don't have HBO.

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  6. Sorry, if it was Skinamax, I could help you out.

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  7. It looks really powerful. If it comes to Netflix soon, I'll burn a copy for you.

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  8. They'll probably throw it on iTunes after it premieres.

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  9. Watched this Saturday night. Was very touching. I was a mess afterwards. Who knew they had so much respect for these men.

    #1

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  10. I have HBO and a DVR recorder. If you want me to do it for you I will gladly, but you will have to give me a tutorial on how to transfer it to a DVD. leave me a comment and then I will e-mail you.

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  11. I just added my email to my profile-you can e-mail me.

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  12. wow ... i'm crying ... i'll have to find that somewhere

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  13. the girl i share an office with has it on dvd, she switched from showtime to hbo just to watch it, she said it's awesome and she's bringing it in for me

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  14. Yeah... I'm kinda avoiding the movie, to be honest. I get all torn up over that stuff.

    As a member of the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard I've been to WAY too many military funerals in the past few years. If the family wants, we'll meet the airplane at the terminal, watch them unload the fallen soldier to the hearse, then we'll give the hearse an escort "under flag" to wherever it's gotta go...

    Sometimes we help stand guard duty over the coffin at the funeral home.

    Sometimes we'll hold a flag line.

    Sometimes we'll do an escort to the cemetery.

    Every time it's hard. Very hard. And we only see the last few days of the soldier's journey home...

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