Published on July 20th, 2012 | by Chris0
Memorial Day (2011)
"It's Memorial Day, isn't it? What are we supposed to remember?"
I didn't recall this film being promoted in any significant way, and its a damn shame. Because Memorial Day has got to be one of the better war movies I've seen in a long, long time. I suppose my experience might have turned a bit subjective, but I suspect it would be that way for a lot of people.
We start with Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett), just coming back from a tour in Iraq. During his stay in a military hospital, he tells his nurse all about his grandfather, and the events of one fateful Memorial Day in 1993, 10 years earlier.
Young Kyle (Jackson Bond) finds his grandfather Bud's (James Cromwell) footlocker full of mementos from his time in the 82nd Airborne in WWII. Reluctantly, Bud allows Kyle to pick three items from the chest, and he tells the story surrounding each one of them. The stories of course are done in flashback with Cromwell's son John taking the role of a young Lt. Vogel (quite convincingly I might add.)
Also told are a few stories of Kyle's tour in Iraq, with both complement and contrast the two's experiences in a very coherent manner. (I don't want to spoil any of these "stories", so lets just say they really are told quite well.)
On another level, its also about how the experiences of war affect you, for the rest of your life. How after all these years it still haunts Bud, and the immediate and future effects on Kyle.
As for my own experience of this movie, I found myself seeing a lot of my own family in this. Mainly because of James Cromwell and Mary Kay Fortier-Spalding's portrayal as the grandparents. The entire Vogel household reminded me so much of my own parents (both in appearance and mannerism), and grandparents that it was hard (in fact impossible) to step outside of that. The entire "don't talk to Grandpa about the war" bit, the German "sensibility" of "Opa" and "Oma" (man a few of those moments were familiar....) And at times, I wondered how many other people would see this in a similar light.
“Stories live forever — but only if you tell ’em.”
This movie also touched on something else I think is ultimately important, and in fact why this website even exists. Its through those war stories, and eventually, war movies that these stories are told, and put into a format so that we don't forget. So that we don't forget how completely awful and terrible it all is, and that we don't forget how important it can be, or why we do it in the first place. Right or wrong.
Honestly, if it weren't for some rather realistic depictions of wartime violence and injury I would recommend this for the younger audience who may not have that connection to a veteran of past wars. Those who really don't have anyone to tell them these kind of stories or can relate to events outside of a history book. I'd say that judgement is up to you as a parent.
I have to succumb to subjective feeling here and give Memorial Day a full 9/10. I don't do that very often. (Still haven't given a solid 10/10, not sure if that would ever happen. Me and my logarithmic scale!) It is designed to tug at all of your bits, and manages to pull every single one of them. At least it did mine.
Here's the trailer. I'm seriously considering putting this one on the shelf permanently, I thought it was that good.
Memorial Day [Blu-ray]
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When SSgt. Kyle Vogel leaves a handwritten letter on the seat of his car, grabs a pistol and steps into a Minnesota forest, we wonder who he is and what he's about to do. Flash back a few months as Vogel lies wounded in a hospital near Anbar Province, Iraq...
DVD InformationBinding: Blu-ray
Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)
Brand: Image Entertainment
Manufacturer: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
Original Release Date:
- Jonathan Bennett
- James Cromwell
- John Cromwell
- Jackson Bond
- Factory sealed DVD
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
A must see for any generation!!,
I was lucky enough to see a screening of this film, and was blown away. To echo the reviews below, it's more than a war movie, it's a family movie. The movie crosses multiple generations, and encompasses stories from two wars. For those from the WWII generation this will bring back their own memories from a time with the war was very much part of their daily life. For those with loved ones serving now it gives a real face to what is happening. For everyone else it's a solid reminder that memories are stories that need to be shared, that burdens can't be carried alone and that all generations have something to give to one another.
Additionally, it teaches us that Memorial Day is more than a time for picnics and BBQ, more than just a free day off and a parade but that it's a day when we honor and remember.
I strongly recommend this for anyone, not just those with military ties
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
The closeness between the grandfather and his grandson was also touching and special. I am lucky to be very close to the only grandchild I have, a boy of 5 1/2. We have, since his birth, had a special relationship that continues to grow each day. I too have things to share with him someday.
Sometimes fathers, because of their role and lack of experience/wisdom, cannot share with their son, daughter, or other family members. With the years comes a realization of the memories tucked away which those "souvenirs" represent. This film helped in my confirmation of that.
I recommend this film to all Vet's and their families, and everyone... Read more
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An original initial idea, some honest moments and a rather good ending - but in all a rather average film...,
Sergeant Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett) is a young American soldier who serves in Iraq with the 34th Infantry Division. Briefly hospitalised for a not very serious injury, he strikes up a conversation with the resident military psychiatrist, Lieutenant Kelly Tripp (Emily Fradenburgh). Even if he is of course aware that this conversation is neither entirely accidental nor completely casual he accepts to play the game and tells to the the inifinitely patient psychiatrist a story from his childhood, about the one and only day when his grandfather (James Cromwell) accepted to tell him some of his own service with 82nd Airborne Division in WWII. The film then mixes four story lines: Kyle's service in Iraq, Kyle's conversation with Lt. Tripp, Kyle's conversation with his grandfather and the WWII stories his... Read more
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Summary: "It's Memorial Day, isn't it? What are we supposed to remember?"