My argument for: the film is shot in a style that beautifies the military aesthetic, and the entire premise of the film is a militarist wet dream.
My argument against: the film is quite nuanced in its depiction of said wet dream, and its ultimate results are tragedy and violence. The adults of the film, including Scott in his small role, are war-hardened veterans who see through the kids’ naivete and ultimately want a peaceful solution to the crisis.
I can’t decide. Let’s debate it.
You’re using the word “fascist” incorrectly. A case can be made that it is a militaristic film. Very different.
1. a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2. the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3. a fascist movement, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.
I’d have to say I didn’t see it as anything fascistic necessarily but it did show an idealism toward I suppose what you could call orderly patriotism exemplified in Hutton and Penn’s rebellious yet convention-ideated characters, the extreme of which is brought out in Cruise’s psychotic militarism and need for lashing out at the opposition without much consideration or foresight (once again, probably Tom Cruise playing himself, but I digress).
It reminded me in some ways of something Mishima would’ve written, though he probably would’ve made the cadets in the form of that extreme militarism, choosing death ultimately in the end for themselves all together.
“You’re using the word “fascist” incorrectly.”
I don’t agree.
Jesus, Taps? I thought that movie didn’t make it out of the eighties, figuring all copies must have disintegrated from overplay during the early years of cable and VCRs. Who knew people still watched it? Strangely hard to imagine something like that even getting made today given how moviemaking has changed since then.
Released on Blu-ray summer of 2011 in one of Fox’s bizarre vault dumps.
I guess with that cast and the nostalgia factor I shouldn’t be so surprised it’s clawed its way back into consciousness, and I’m having a little bit of a hard time trying to decide what makes it seem so of its era. It’s one of those weird big small movies that popped up during the time where the story doesn’t seem to lend itself to theatrical treatment given how slight it is in some ways, while still being a little too much at the same time. It’s also just so damned earnest, which seems as distant from our era as a Gene Autry western.
In a way—for me personally—just the presence of Tim Hutton is a prominent role in a film brackets it in with a certain group of films that never made it out of the ’80s.
Hutton is a better actor than people give him credit for.
Yeah, I agree with that, Uli. As a preteen and teen in the ’80s, he was a personal favorite (he also directed one of my favorite music videos of the period).
The film seems very Reagan-era. Lots of sympathy being whipped up for the noble military kids who are having their school sold out from under them by liberals with money. I remember the audience I saw it with (Tysons Corner Mall in McLean Virginia, good god the things that one remembers) burst into applause when the soldier boys first pull guns on the bad lawyer types.
I’d have thought this film had been pretty well forgotten, too.
Roscoe, well, let’s keep the same story, but set it in a school for troubled youths who have no where else to go when conservatives shut down the school because they feel government is too involved in education. Does it really change that much?
Uli — it depends on whether that school for troubled youths drums into them the importance of militaristic ideals like honor and fighting and war and teaches those same troubled youths how to handle weapons and has lots of handy guns and ammo lying around. The film you mention would probably end differently, anyway, with the conservatives ordering the National Guard in to kill all the kids.
And to be fair to the film TAPS, it does carry a rather pointed reminder about the real cost of the militaristic gung-ho gun-waving, which probably accounts to some degree for the way it has fallen off the map.
Yeah, it might be interesting at some point to look at the the “school drama” as a genre that reflects what’s going on in the culture of the time. Compare this film, for example, to something like Toy Soldiers where a group of rich, undisciplined prep school kids keep the terrorists from winning.
. . . or for a sort of opposite perspective, Lumet’s Child’s Play, which (coincidentally?) roughly coincidence with the nascent neoconservative movement in the U.S.
I’m grateful for the Fox vault dumps. That’s how Last Tango got its much-needed blu-ray release, along with several other essentials. And the PQ is excellent, if anyone enjoyed it enough that they’re interested in the release.
And Charles, the Mishima correlation did not slip my view. I think if Mishima had directed or written it, he would have amped up the homoeroticism more and had the film end in, as you said, a shootout between the students and the Army.
“I think if Mishima had directed or written it, he would have amped up the homoeroticism more and had the film end in, as you said, a shootout between the students and the Army.”
Uhm, sorry, but doesn’t the film end in a shootout between the students and the Army? Tom Cruise’s beefed-up psycho provokes a pretty ugly confrontation, as I remember.
PRO – It emphasizes an adolescent view of the military. Given the context, America had supposedly “lost its way” after Vietnam and the young cadets were trying to fight against a bureaucratic system that would just close the school down without caring about tradition. Losing one’s way is what appealed to folks in Italy, Spain and Germany.
Yes, Roscoe, but I meant a conflict in which all of the students fired their weapons.
I see, thanks.
Fascism is a political system of quite recent origin. The problem of War and State is much older.
Taps deals with this relationship as do other films like Tunes of Glory Apocalypse Now and Bridge Over The River Kwai.
“Axiom I. The war machine is exterior to the State apparatus.
Proposition I. This exteriority is first attested to in mythology,
epic, drama, and games.”
Nomadology: The War Machine
Mishima was a draft dodger.
^ Indeed he was, but he still insisted on being of a militarist ideation, something he emphasized in his work and his outward persona.
The aesthetics of fascism can be attractive if one imagines oneself to be the one holding the rifle rather than the one impaled on the bayonet.