We, the Marines

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
We, the Marines Movie Poster Image
Docu celebrates Marines and their values; some violence.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 37 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Marines are fierce, loyal, resourceful, and determined men and women whose training sets them apart from members of other American military branches. Fighting global terrorism has changed the way the military must fight since many terrorist enemies have neither uniforms nor states of origin.
 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many brave young men and women join the Marines for the noblest of reasons -- to protect their country, to provide aid to those in need, and to serve and sacrifice.

 

Violence

Marines suffer agonies in training. They learn to be strong enough and brave enough to endure harsh conditions and dangerous situations. Many have died in conflicts and rescue missions.

Sex
Language

"Hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We, the Marines is a 37-minute, high-production value celebration of the good values that U.S. Marines stand for and thus could easily be mistaken for a recruiting tool that will attract young viewers. The film offers moments from grueling boot camp training. We see recruits jump from planes, escape from submerged helicopters, and shoot missiles at targets from flying helicopters. The piece extols the undeniable virtues of team work, selfless sacrifice, and dogged determination, all hallmarks of Marine training. Narrator and former Marine Gene Hackman explains Marine motto "semper fidelis," which means "always faithful," and describes the intense loyalty Marines are taught to develop for fellow corps members. Marines are seen dragging "wounded" comrades as they are trained to never leave Marines behind. Intense training exercises are shown, and violence is implied as much of the work Marines do is connected to either war or combat situations. "Hell" is heard.

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What's the story?

WE, THE MARINES offers informative footage of Marines in many stages of training. New recruits' heads are shaved. In training, they shimmy through mock riverbeds covered in mud, carrying heavy packs. They drag "wounded" comrades out of harm's way. They jump from airborne planes, they shoot from helicopters, they escape from a submerged, upside-down helicopter. All of these actions seem all the more heroic and admirable as depicted in well-composed, sharply-edited scenes accompanied by popular music ("Rise Up" and "Stand by Me," for example). Former Marine Gene Hackman narrates, advising that the Marine motto "Semper fidelis" (always faithful) means that loyalty to other Marines makes the corps a special military organization. Being a Marine, he explains, means being "in the corps all the days of your life on earth."  We're advised that Marines are resourceful, that they can perform difficult tasks immediately, but that the impossible takes a little longer if you have the training and grit to be a Marine. Learning to deal with the unexpected is part of the curriculum. Plans are good but it's important to know that they are always subject to the changes real situations will inevitably impose. The film notes that in addition to combat-readiness, Marines provide humanitarian aid around the world. They helped Japan after its major tsunami and Haiti after the earthquake.  
 

Is it any good?

This is a beautifully-made film that justifiably emphasizes the nobility and inherent goodness of service to country. However, it doesn't dwell much on the potential negative physical and psychological consequences such service can entail. Given how young many Marine recruits are -- some just out of high school -- We, the Marines would seem far more well-balanced if it spent a little more time on the horrors of war and the harsh realities of committing to this type of service. Still, older kids in military families will find a lot to celebrate, as will kids considering a military career.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that while Marines are sometimes peacekeepers and sometimes deliverers of humanitarian aid, their primary training targets military objectives. Do you think We, the Marines should talk more about war and its actual negative consequences?

  • This short film celebrates the many virtues of people who train hard to be their best at protecting our country. What techniques does the film use to appeal to young people? What does it have in common with advertisements for fun resorts? 

  • Does the film imply that the Marine Corps is looking for more young people to join? How does it accomplish that? Does it make you want to be a Marine? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries

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