Produced Universal Pictures, released Nov. 4, 2005, budget of $80 million, color 35mm negative, 1.85:1 screen ratio, digital sound, 123 mins.

Jarhead film 2005 -1 - 2




This film is based on the 2003 book Jarhead by Anthony Swofford who was a lance corporal scout sniper in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Platoon, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, stationed at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base in California on August 2, 1990, when put on standby following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The platoon prepared for deployment in Operation Deser Shield by renting Vietnam war films such as Apocalypse Now. Swofford and his platoon flew for 24 hours on a United jumbo jet (not TWA) and arrived at the airport in Riyadh August 14. Most of the film and book recounts Swofford's six months of waiting in the desert with platoon friends Johnny Rotten, Kuehn, Troy, Fergus, Dickerson, Combs, Sgt. Siek, Crocket, Martinez, Cortes, Fountain, Dettman, Larson, Andy Goerke, and Meyers, cleaning toilets, hydrating from canteens (not bottled water), watching movies, looking at the pictures of girls on the Wall of Shame, meeting peaceful Bedouins (Swofford only knew a few Arabic phrases from in-country orientation), complaining about his Catholic dog tags, being ordered to take untested anti-gas PB (pyridostigmine bromide) pills. The bombs of Operation Desert Storm began to fall on Iraq January 17, 1991. The film does not show the Scud and Patriot missiles, the tank battles described in another book by Alex Vernon, the role of women in the war, the air war, nor the strategy described in Michael Gordon's book. Swofford marched with the 30,000 men of the First Marine Division Feb. 23 at the start of of the 100-hour ground war (Gen. Schwarzkopf and Op. Desert Sabre and Task Force Grizzly are not mentioned in the film). He only encountered bombed ruins of Iraqui vehicles, charred bodies, burning oil wells. He and his partner Johnny are ordered to help take the Ahmed Al Jaber Airfield. The film does not show Iraqui POWs, the .50 calibre gun carried by Johnny, the ground attack on the airfield supported by mortar fire (no air attack), the surrendering Iraquis, entering Kuwait City, checking enemy bunkers, Swofford stealing the dog tags from 3 dead Iraqui soldiers, and almost killed by a trip wire booby trap. He never fired his rifle in combat, and remained ambivalent about his experience as a marine. The film and the book are soldier character studies, and provide very little information about Iraq or the Gulf War.



revised 11/4/05 by Steven Schoenherr at the University of San Diego | Filmnotes