Erase and Forget (2017) ****
Dir: Andrea Luka Zimmerman | US Doc | With Ted Kotcheff, Tudor Gates | 88’
Ten years in the making, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s investigative thriller-style documentary examines the success of the Rambo films in exemplifying the frontier mentality of an America embodied by decades of militarism, gun culture and social unrest, represented here by officer Bo Gritz who claims to be the inspiration for John Rambo. In a recorded interview, Tudor Gates (Barbarella) describes him as “the apotheosis of a US war hero”, and he is one of the most decorated Vietnam vets.
But behind the articulate and indomitable figure of Gritz, now 79, who admits to sleeping with an arsenal of guns and night vision equipment at his side, more sinister themes are at play. Like prisoners who have served time, a whole generation of soldiers are unable to relate to their country or compatriots when they return from state-sanctioned combat. Ted Kotcheff describes this as like introducing a bacillus that then poisons their new environment. So Gritz turned whistleblower when disenchantment set in at covert methods of suppression by the authories and exposes high levels of corruption in the US government, that have turned him into a official outcast, while he continues to support gun-carrying and anti-government conspiracy theories in his stance as action hero for the people.
Gritz claims that his mistress is still the Special Forces, and in some ways it’s not surprising that his Vietnamese wife – brought back from the war – soon ran off with a handyman. Gritz claims to have killed more than 400 people in the military, and has even run for presidential office. This illuminating portrait of a rather broken champion is enriched by extraordinary archive footage. As he states himself: “You take someone who could be a credit to mankind and you turn them into garbage” MT
NOW ON RELEASE FROM 2 MARCH 2018