Five Came Back – My Thoughts

This is not a Review!

This is: Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the series 3.5 stars out of 4, writing, “Arguably the best documentary ever made about Hollywood and wartime, Five Came Back is nirvana for movie lovers and a real eye-opener for anyone new to the subject.”

 

The 3 part mini series on Netflix, Five Came Back explores the experiences of five U.S. film directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens – and their front-line film work during the Second World War, whilst enlisted into various branches of the US Military in Europe and the Pacific. I watched all 3 episodes in one sitting. The producers have then also paired 5 modern day directors and each modern director discusses the impact and legacies of one of the five earlier directors: Steven Spielberg (Wyler), Francis Ford Coppola (Huston), Guillermo del Toro (Capra), Paul Greengrass (Ford), and Lawrence Kasdan (Stevens).

I found the series fascinating, captivating and an emotional journey. Emotional, as it dragged me back to the recollections and memories, from my own experiences in War and years of work in EMS, and the mental stress and PTSD, that those times inflict on us. What they saw and how it changed them, and the reality that came rushing to meet them,  in ways they could have never conceived, impacted on their lives forever. Changing the way they saw the world and notably their creative output post the war.

The director George Stevens who before the war used to make romantic comedies never made one again in his life – and the tone of his movies changed, they were thoughtful and dramatic; Giant and The Diary of Anne Frank are two I remember seeing in the 1970’s with my mom …

But this is not a review…. back to how this series made me think and reflect …

A powerful and thought provoking moment came for me in the opening segment of the final episode (3) when, the narrator Paul Greengrass makes this (for me) very heartfelt observation:

“what is the witness that you’re giving to the world that you see out there”

I am still processing the full extent of what this means in the here and know, and how it impacts my life’s journey. The questions and thoughts I have on this are: what type of world do we see out there (as I am sure its different for many of us) and what is the image that we portray to that world. In this frenetic age of social media, where we can choose to live our entire lives in the public eye, dragging out our 15 min of fame to previously unimaginable lengths! And then how does this impact on the witness we bear and the world which we want to see?

Often we are moulded and haunted by a past, we did not always ask for, and facing an uncertain future and unknown destination. Yet even with that uncertainty staring us in the face we soldier forward. The biggest battle, at times is finding our way home or a home.

The section on PTSD of the soldiers and the 5 directors is thought provoking and raises more questions than answers, and another blog post is brewing on this subject and a short documentary film directed by John Houston. The 1946 film; Let There Be Light and its portrayal of soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder led to Let There Be Light being suppressed by the U.S. government; it was not released until the 1980s.

Let me close out with the powerful optimistic hopeful words from a Capra post WW2 film, which was a flop on its release but later became a classic:

The world is not all evil.
Yes, we do have nightmares, but we also have dreams.
We do have villainy, but we also have great compassion.
There’s good in the world.
And it’s wonderful.

Frank Capra – It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

5 came back movie poster

© 2019 michael d emmerich
© 2019 mikesnexus

A Glimmer of Hope

 

the house stands all alone on the hill

shuttered and drawn

I approach in darkness

all is locked, silent and dark



I seek some way in

but to no avail

no one answers my knocking

a sliver of light

at an upstairs window



a shadow beckons

is this the glimmer of hope

that will open the door?

I patiently wait

…..

© 2018 michael d emmerich

Surrounded By Life

there is life is everywhere

it exists, and always has

in all that we see there is life

even in death, there is life

it is light, pushing darkness back

fighting those that rail against it



in the most unimaginable places

life claws out an existence

life like hope is the eternal spring

that we all desire to sate our thirst

long may the well overflow

with a never ending

river of life

 

© 2016 Michael D Emmerich

The Birth of Hope

hope arises from a distant past

barrenness becomes imperfect storm

drought becomes flood

passions spring forth

engaging in a lust-filled union



the expectation of hope is laid

 bringing with it change

pain, discomfort, hope

change forcefully thrust onto the unwitting

the chaos of evolution



darkness waits with expectation

the challenge of darkness

as hopes journey begins

moving from the confines of darkness

down the path to the light



the waiting hand of light beckons

dragging hope to into its arms

moving from the known to the unknown

hope emerges with a scream

it rents the veil of darkness



darkness gives birth to a frail hope

light enfolds hope in its warm embrace

hope like victory is helpless at birth

it has emerged into a world fraught with despair

pushed out into the world to face life’s challenges



history replaces amnesia

history is hopes foundation

futures are built on memories foundation

life is sustained by history’s past

the future is moulded by past scribes



seasons come and go

barren winters pass

always followed by springs new life

hope always springs eternal

from the darkness of winter



hope is risky

hope is trust onto an uncertain future

the belief in the impossible

making the improbable possible

prepared to face loss, disappointment, betrayal



chaos order evolution

all merge into the revolution

of an emerging fading hope

what are we left with

but this inscrutable darkness



which is our future past

this inescapable darkness of new life

from a future past

the last gasp of hope

has not been born yet



hope is victory wrenched from darkness’s grasp

claim your moment of paradise

and then

ONWARD

 

© 2016 Michael D Emmerich