White Squall (1996)

Jeff Bridges plays a slightly arrogant captain of a school ship in this true story of a naval tragedy. The crew is made up of high school boys from rich families. Each of those crew descriptors should imply a hue and tone for the movie.

In the tradition of Dead Poets Society, we are called on to sympathize with these boys with shaky home lives and to agree with the unorthodox teaching and mentoring meted out by their captain. To skew things even more, the story occurs in 1960-61, so there are cultural aspects too (the kids smoke, it's a big deal to stand up to your parents, parents have a great deal to say about their sons' futures, liability issues are faint).

In the decades since, people and society have changed, but not much. The richness of the film lies in the journey and the relationships that are fostered by it. There is a realism and a vulnerability portrayed that really tugs at your heart and your sense of adventure.

Truth: Young men are drawn to adventure, close relationships and responsibility. It is best fostered by some rite of passage in community.

The "Truth" feature on this blog is a new one. As I watch films critically, I always seek to draw whatever truth I can from the story. For me it is one of the beautiful aspects of watching stories unfold and characters act. I tend to ignore the lies.


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