Mark Hammer

There is a scene in David Lynch’s lovely film “The Straight Story”, where the main character, so wonderfully portrayed with so much dignity by the late Richard Farnsworth, is talking with another older vet in a dingy small-town bar about their war experiences. Each has secrets they’ve kept from the world for decades, that are just eating them up, and have shaped their lives since those days so long ago. The two men never look at each other; they just talk, knowing that they’re in the company of someone who will understand. It is achingly beautiful, and never fails to get me misty-eyed with its naked honesty.

I don’t know that I’d say it “honours” the men, because what they describe has no honour. But it respects them as veterans. That is, they have been through war, sacrificed then, sacrifice still, and feel things the rest of us never will. There is no glorification of war, justification of it, or condemnation of it. Indeed, because war has no presence in the film except for its residue on the soul, and that passing scene, it is more about veterans than a great many films I’ve seen that confuse soldiering and being a veteran. That they are fundamentally good men, even after all they have been through, is probably where the honour comes into it.

I’m getting a little farklemt thinking about it. Highly recommended, and with the exception of a few naughty words said here and there, quite suitable for family viewing.