24 May 2005 | Bobs-9
Like an old cinematic friend - where's it been all these years?
I was really delighted to see the DVD of "Beach Red" in a video store last week, and of course I immediately bought it. I see that several commentators here have said something like "where did this come from, and how come I never saw it before?" Indeed, it's become something of a rare film over the years. I saw it in 1967 with my uncle, who was a World War II veteran who served in Europe. I was about 14 then, and its style, which was strikingly progressive for that time, made a deep impression on me. To me it seemed moody and dream-like, and it's been so long since I saw it, or even any discussion of it, that I almost felt as if I had dreamed seeing it in the first place. I was bowled over by it at the time. My uncle didn't care for it, as I think he expected a more traditional war film. He was one of those "sees things in black and white" types of guys, and though he didn't bother to explain it to me, I think the internal monologues, flashbacks, sexual encounters, and humanizing of the enemy in a war film just didn't wash with him.
Now, close to 40 years later, I finally saw it for a second time. I can see some clumsiness in the characterization and dialog that didn't strike me way back then. But I can also see why it seemed so audacious in 1967 as well. From my perspective, this was the first of what I would consider a "modern" war film that I experienced, and as such I tend to regard it as sort of a landmark. I can appreciate it more now as a pure ANTI-war film than I could back then, when it just struck me as strange, exotic, and titillating both for its sexual content and graphic violence. Just like the Sergio Leone spaghetti-westerns made traditional American westerns seem old-hat overnight, I could never look at traditional war films with the same eye again after seeing this back in 1967. I'm very glad to make its acquaintance again after all these years.