John Moore is set to direct William Washer’s adaptation of Once a Pilgrim: The True Story of One Man’s Courage Under Rebel Fire. The book is by former SAS soldier, Will Scully, and is his story of trying to help civilians during a military coup in Sierra Leone.
Moore describes Scully’s experiences as unusual, the kind of story which is ‘so bizarre and mesmerizing, it created a compulsion in us to tell it’ and the experiences of Scully evacuating civilians caught up in the heat of battle certainly hold promise for a captivating film.
It’s not the first time the military has inspired a big screen production. Here’s a pick of some of the best.
Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization of the long hunt for Osama bin Laden, notorious leader of Al Qaeda and the world’s most wanted man after the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. The film received widespread praise and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actress and Best Picture, winning Best Sound Editing. It was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, Jessica Chastain winning Best Actress – Drama.
Despite the positive reception, Zero Dark Thirty was also subject to some controversy. Originally scheduled for release in October 2011, Obama’s opposition argued that the release of the film would influence public support in his favour, since he had been in power when bin Laden was finally captured. Bowing to the pressure, the studio pushed the release date back despite the fact that the screenwriter pointed out the president wasn’t featured in the film at all. After a limited release in December, Frank Bruni, writing for The New York Times, commented that the film was a long way from being the pro-Obama propaganda some had feared.
The film’s treatment of the question of torture also attracted strong debate. Although the Bush administration had previously tried to conceal the extent to which it had been used, the film was criticised for presenting torture as a necessary evil, with the end goal of protecting America justifying the unpleasant means. Some critics felt that the film suggested that without torture, bin Laden would still be at large.
However, director Kathryn Bigelow stood behind the film, believing that it posed difficult questions surrounding what was done in pursuit of bin Laden while writer Mark Bowden said that story telling doesn’t have to be about many an argument in support or against a certain behaviour – ‘it can be simply about telling the truth.’