26 July 2002 | jacksflicks
Etched in the Mind
When I saw in news accounts the lovely yet fearful face of a 16 year-old, who had defected from the Taliban during the campaign against terrorists in Afghanistan, in the aftermath of the 9/11, I was taken back to Bernhard Wicki's Die Brücke (The Bridge), to the faces of young German boys who were recruited by the Nazis to defend a "last" bridgehead, in the final days of World War II in Europe. In both cases, young "true believers" were used as cannon fodder by cynical adults in their futile power games, which they had disguised as moral crusades.
A tiny band of boys, holding weapons as big as they, their bodies and faces still soft and fresh and tight, facing the juggernaut of tanks and artillery and machine guns which we know will soon tear them to pieces. And for what? An ideal?
I suspect that The Bridge was the basis for the Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn vehicle, "Taps". However, The Bridge is the starker and more brutal treatment because, unlike the what-if story of Taps, the what-if does not apply to The Bridge. In fact, throughout history, the use of children in furtherance of warfare has a sickening frequency, the earliest I know of being the Children's Crusade, and now we have the Tamil Tigers (little girls with lockets of cyanide vials) and Palestinian boy bombs.
The Bridge deserves to be revived and shown to as wide an audience as possible in this Dastardly New World we live in.