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'Lone Survivor' is a life-saving mission waiting to be accepted

Marcus Luttrell and the Navy SEAL team as depicted in "Lone Survivor"
Marcus Luttrell and the Navy SEAL team as depicted in "Lone Survivor"
© Universal Pictures

Lone Survivor


I stood in the restroom, trying to remain calm while there was someone standing next to me. As he started to leave the restroom I thought that I would become more calm. Nope: I felt like I was going to implode. I wondered if it would now be okay to fall down onto the ground and curl up into a ball and let the fountain of tears I was holding back flow out. I somehow fought my way against doing this and remained relatively calm and poised in the restroom aside from the few bits of water starting to drip from my eyes. I'm glad I didn't collapse as I soon realized there was still someone else in the restroom with me. Plus, you know, who would want to end up on a restroom floor?

I looked into the mirror and tried to put on my best happy face. Well, it wasn't exactly a happy face so much as a barely passable "everything is okay" face. I kept hearing the quiet, but still present little bits of laughter coming from some person behind me in the theater at various points during the screening of "Lone Survivor" that I had attended. I couldn't believe that someone could laugh at what I had just watched. I couldn't believe that someone could just brush off a movie so nonchalantly as they exited the theater. How could someone be so unaffected by something that had left me completely devastated?

I then recalled an earlier moment when I had been watching the trailer for "Lone Survivor" and someone had shouted that it was "War Porn" and that it was propaganda. This attack on the film had me in quiet disagreement then, but now, having seen the film, I was ready to burst in anger. How could someone dismiss this film with such confidence, especially not having even seen it?

Here's the deal: I understand that some people feel this movie is no more than an advertisement, but I just can't see it that way. "Lone Survivor" is the story of the Navy SEAL Team that was sent on a mission in Afghanistan to assassinate Al-Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd. As the title might lead you to believe, the mission did not go well. There was only one survivor. It is because of this survivor that the story is now being seen on the big screen. Marcus Luttrell, the titular lone survivor, has dedicated his life to preserving the memory of those who had fallen in the mission known as Operation Red Wings. He already wrote a book about the story and he was involved in the making of this movie. He even appears in the film which, admittedly, is a little distracting.

Anyway, I already knew the basic story before I walked into the theater to watch "Lone Survivor". I wasn't sure how much I really wanted to see this movie as I already knew what was going to happen. I was also a little afraid I wasn't going to be able to handle the movie and maybe in that regard I wasn't totally off base. Walking out of the movie, however, I knew I had gained something from the experience.

"Lone Survivor" isn't just a movie. Well, it is a movie. It is certainly not 100% accurate to the truth because no movie could be. So, it is in part a fictional movie. That said, I rarely ever felt like I was watching a piece of fiction on the screen. To me, the characters were not just characters, but real people. These were human lives I was watching on the screen. Their deaths did not have the same impact that most movie deaths have because I knew that these people weren't going to be resurrected for some sequel. These people were dead and they weren't going to pop back up to life in a surprise after-the-credits scene. The dead in this movie are dead and not just on the screen. They are truly gone.

Well, at least, they could have been. You see, the dead live on because this story lives on. The tagline for this movie is "Live to tell the story" and that might as well be the tagline for Marcus Luttrell's life. After surviving Operation Red Wings, he has chosen to keep the memory of his fallen brothers alive by spreading their story to as many people as he can. First there was his book and now there is this movie. I know, having watched the movie, that I will never forget the lives of the people represented here. So, in that sense, I say that Marcus Luttrell's current personal mission has been accomplished.

Actually, Marcus Luttrell's mission is no longer his own. Now the mission to keep the memory of his fallen brothers alive is not only in his hands, but in the hands of all of those who have been exposed to his story. There are now many who can recommend to someone to either read his book or watch the movie so they can carry it with them throughout their life and continue to spread it to others. In this way, the fallen in Operation Red Wings will never truly go away.

I do understand that some people defend war and some people oppose it and that this may make it hard for some to sit and watch this movie. I really don't think this movie has anything to do with politics, however. It is not trying to say anything one way or the other about war in general. It is only showing us one part of the picture. It is showing us something that is very much a reality and that should not be ignored. Yes, it cannot be 100% the truth, but this movie at least seems to be as close to the truth as one could get with a movie.

So, I say give this movie a try no matter what your thoughts on war are. This is not war propaganda. This is simply war and war is a part of reality. The men in this movie do not fight for any kind of ideal that we can see, but are more fighting for survival. They are fighting and sacrificing their lives for one thing: each other. The men who died in Operation Red Wings died so that the other SEAL Team members could live. Marcus Luttrell, unfortunately, was the only survivor. It was his job to make sure that the story of Operation Red Wings was never forgotten and that his SEAL Team members lived on, at least in memory. Now, it is ours.

As long as we spread the story of Operation Red Wings to more people then there will never truly be a "lone" survivor. Even after Marcus Luttrell is gone, his life, and the lives of his fellow SEAL Team members will live on through this story.

The best movies affect the viewer in a substantial way. The best kind of movie can change a person's mood . It can make a sad person happy or make a person come to terms with their sadness. It can also give a person a new perspective on life or it can result in a lifestyle change for the viewer, no matter if serious, silly, or just plain fun. I sit here now, typing on my laptop in the comfort of my own home, still struggling somewhat to remain calm. The movie is over, but the story is not. The story is now in the hands of all those that are exposed to it. I have been exposed to it. I have been affected by it and hopefully, now, I have exposed the story to you. What will you do with the knowledge? Well, that's up to you. I say spread it. Do not live to tell the story, tell the story so that the fallen may live.

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