Three Kings is a 1999 Hollywood film directed by David O. Russell. The film gives a real-time depiction of post-war Iraq, with a blend of fact and fiction. The director shoots the film in a third person view that focuses on four soldiers, and their quest to take Saddam’s stolen gold. Three Kings starts with a depiction of Army camp-life in Iraq, the film quickly focuses in on four main characters, Archie Gates, Tony Barlow, Chief Elgin, and Conrad Vig. They have secretly discovered a map leading to an Iraqi gold bunker, and the four of them decide to set out in search of it, unannounced to their superiors.
The guys find the bunker in a near by town of Kabala, and begin to load the gold into their trucks. They find captured Iraqi civilians that were uprising against Saddam after he surrender. The aspect of heroism begins to enter the story line when Archie starts to struggle with personal and social morality issues. A gun battle arises in Kabala, and Barlow is captured.
The three other men are saved from a gas raid by Iraqi rebels that eventually help them reunite with Barlow. In return for their help, the four soldiers agree to aid in the escape of the civilians and rebels from Iraq. Conrad is killed in by a Republican Guard while rescuing Barlow, but his body is carried along to Iran. The group is stopped just short of the Iraq/Iran border, but is eventually allowed to cross, minus the three men who were arrested, in return for the Kuwaiti gold confiscated by the Three Kings.
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Three Kings takes a realist point of view toward life in the days to follow the war. The film shows the realism of war; the unrest and uncertainty of the Iraqi people and their views toward George Bush. Along with the harsh reality of the torturing on both the soldiers and civilians. The finest point of realism this film offers, was when the leader of the uprising, Amir, asked Archie if George Bush would stop the return of Saddam to power, and Archie paused and looked as if he was thinking about it for the first time. This depicted the uncertainty of the soldiers towards the future of these people. The same people they are telling to “rise up against Saddam.” In the end, this was like a path to eventual death for the people of Iraq.
Three Kings displays many of the ideals of Grotious and Bodin. The intentions of the Army are similar to Grotious’, they both want to bring a means to order. The Army tries to bring order to Iraq and would have succeeded, but they were too quick to withdraw from Iraq, allowing Saddam to return to power and punish those who “rose up.” The film parallels the ideals of Bodin. President Bush failed to keep his word to the Iraqi people, which according to Bodin would have created long term security (and made the “War on Iraq” unnecessary).
The film encompasses domestic and world political characteristics. Domestic politics are about the mutual help system, people helping people, and the four men in the film continually show that they come from this type of system.
Three Kings illustrates the struggle of the men to change the views of civilians, and try to reassure their safety (in hindsight we know President Bush Sr. left them out to dry).
The world politics aspect is a more centralized view within Iraq. It relates to the anarchy in Iraq, and the great uncertainty of their country. This parallels to the world as a whole, and the great uncertainty of what people with weapons of mass destruction will do (as seen in the beginning of the recent war in Iraq).
The film views the political scene in both a state and individual level.
The state level is depicted by exploring and interacting the four men with the states characteristics. They all must experience a population which is in shambles due to lack of food, the type of government which is thought to be gone (but eventually returned to punish those who “rose up”), the geographical location which caused few problems, and the ideology of getting people to believe Saddam was gone for good. The individual level is depicted when the men are faced with the harsh reality of how life is in Iraq. The four guys then decide to fill their needs and search for the gold. The film also portrays the media during the war. Media is our most accessible way to study what is happening around the world.
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The film illustrates how the Army only offers what they want the people to hear. For example, Archie was to stay close to the reporter, Adrianna Cruz, because “we don’t want her to push stories that we don’t want pushed.” Propaganda is also addressed all throughout the film. In a scene where the soldiers are trying to get cars from the rebel and have them join their fight, Archie delivers verbal propaganda and says, “George Bush wants you to rise up.” Three Kings was a difficult film to correlate with our class studies. After watching the film I was faced with confusion. It was difficult to separate the thoughts of the first Gulf conflict from the recent “War on Iraq.” Both seemed to come to no conclusion.
Like Hobbes states, and Three Kings backs up, peace is anomaly, it never really happens.