Monday, April 07, 2003

Three Kings - Another Look by the New York Times

"Three Kings" is about a new way of seeing war. A $50 million studio film with major stars, it's a combination heist comedy, conversion melodrama and combat thriller; but the genre conventions are merely a springboard for Mr. Russell's true subject.

Again and again, he uses color, sound and surreal interpolations to break through the viewer's movie-fed, CNN-filtered, rock-'n'-roll-fueled dissociation. With its jarring mixture of tones, "Three Kings" was not a box-office blockbuster. But it looks more and more like a classic.

In an e-mail exchange last week from his office in Los Angeles, Mr. Russell said that he had wanted "Three Kings" to overturn Americans' self-satisfaction at having won a "moral victory" in Desert Storm. While writing the movie, he met with gulf war veterans who told him how sickened they felt as, forbidden to intervene, they watched Iraqi insurgents, encouraged to rise up by the first President Bush, being slaughtered by Saddam Hussein's men.

Whatever elements of "Three Kings" may have been appropriated for militaristic ends, however, the original will never lose its power to shock. It remains the most caustic anti-war movie of this generation.

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