The movie Courage Under Fire was absolutely fascinating in the way that Captain Karen Walden was treated and viewed throughout the film. We first learn of her through a file, which shows that she’s a woman who is being investigated to receive a Medal of Honor posthumously. At that moment, I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I was pretty impressed.
As the film went on, she went from being portrayed as an amazing person to the worst captain the army has ever seen. However, I was particularly struck with the response the General had when Serling brought up the inconsistencies in his report. He told him to finish it up quickly, almost as if he didn’t care what Walden had actually done out in the battlefield. He’d heard a little, but he seemed so determined by all the good press that granting her the medal would receive. She would be the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor, thus it was a pretty big deal and super good publicity for everyone who follows whatever the army does. I found that she was used more as a promoter for how awesome the army is than actually being honored for what she did. I mean, at the very end it was proven that she did actually deserve the Medal, but the reasons for her being suggested for it in the first place were frustrating to me.
Something else that frustrated me was the fact that her initial recommendation and the story mostly came from all the men in her unit, and almost all of them were fabrications.
Next, I found Serling’s and Walden’s companions’ reactions fascinating to have killed someone on their own side. Serling does feel guilty, of course, and he demonstrates it through his drinking, his constant nightmares, and his inability to reconnect with his family after returning from the war. But, if you compare his reactions to the ones that Walden’s men had, it isn’t as strong. Montfriez commits suicide by train, Altameyer can’t talk about the incident without having to self-medicate himself into oblivion, and Ilario turned to drugs. Were their reactions so much stronger because of the fact that she was a woman? Or was it just the circumstance?
Either way, I found it interesting to set Serling and Walden side by side, and compare the two.
Do you guys have any thoughts? Any other striking moments in the movie?