Introductory Reflective Essay

What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

            Robert E. Lee 3

Described by General Winfield Scott as “the very best soldier I ever saw in the field,” General Robert E. Lee is well known for serving the Confederate Army during the Civil War.1 General Lee served in the Mexican War and also brought John Brown’s raid to a swift end. Because of these notable incidents, he was considered one of the best candidates to serve the Union when the states were beginning to split. General Lee declined this offer choosing to stay loyal to his home state of Virginia. The choice was made so Lee could protect his home; his goal of fighting was neither for slavery or secession. Robert E. Lee fought bravely for the South using his perceptive tactical and brave commanding skills to bring the Confederates much success. Unfortunately, Lee was unable to turn the war for the Confederates’ favor, and on April 9, 1865, he was forced to surrender at the Appomattox Court House to General Grant and his Union troops.2 After the war, Lee gave his support to President Johnson and his Reconstruction plan. He also served as the President of Washington and Lee University. General Lee had many successes but also had failures during the Civil War. He is one of the most respected and honored men from the US Military, not only for his military abilities, but also his loyalty, bravery, leadership abilities, and persistence until defeat.

Quentin Tarantino was interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show back in 2007. Tarantino was asked about some of his future plans for movies. He shared, “I would one of these days love to do the John Brown story.”4 When asked why he wanted to make this movie, Tarantino replied, “Because he pretty much ended slavery all by himself. And like all great patriots, was tried for treason. . . Nobody saw slavery the way he saw it, and ‘if we have to start killing people to stop this then they’re going to know what time it is.’ I just love him. He’s just my favorite American.”4 Since Robert E. Lee stopped John Brown’s raid, it is important to realize how Tarantino may feel towards General Lee. Since Tarantino holds such a positive and heroic view of Brown, Tarantino may not think highly of the man who stopped Brown’s raid. Tarantino probably respects General Lee, but readers of this portfolio should realize Lee was not an inspiration to Tarantino. Robert E. Lee is a man that would have accurate personally acquired knowledge to critique the war plot lines of Tarantino’s movie. Nonetheless, Robert E. Lee is a man known for his tactical skills and his knowledge of war, which come from first hand experiences in his life.

Robert E. Lee was a man who had faced the sides of success and defeat during war.  He would understand how war could affect people on the victorious and defeated sides. Since he grew up in a military family, he would especially understand how the war could affect families as a whole. General Lee would be a man who understands how war can change not only the soldiers but also the friends, families, and communities in every way. War taints anything that it touches. Quentin Tarantino’s movies, Inglorious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, include plot lines that Robert E. Lee would understand thoroughly. In Inglorious Basterds the setting of the movie occurs during World War II while in Pulp Fiction the Vietnam War is mentioned in a key scene. Tarantino’s movies are based on the past, but many parts focus on the culture of the world day. War is a topic that is able to transcend time and touch all generations. General Lee was part of the Mexican War and Civil War while Tarantino’s focus is on World War II and the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, Quentin Tarantino uses war as a storyline throughout his movies, Inglorious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, to prove how war can change the lives of people at anytime anywhere anyplace.

The first essay presented in this portfolio is about Inglorious Basterds. The plot line of Inglorious Basterds is based during WWII. Fredrick is a German Soldier while Shoshanna is an undercover Jew. They share similar film interests, but there is a division because these people are on opposite sides of the war. Tarantino creatively directs this movie to include a plot line of two star-crossed lovers as a result of WWII. War creates hatred between people of different countries and sometimes even the same country. Neighbors, such as Shoshanna and Fredrick, have an unspoken dislike for one another. The presentation of WWII throughout Inglorious Basterds shows many of the same cruel events that General Lee claims war to bring.

The second essay presented in the portfolio analyzes how the Vietnam War affected Butch as a character. War is not a large theme during Pulp Fiction, but Tarantino chooses to have Butch’s father die in the Vietnam War. This helps to develop Butch’s personality as a fighter and explain his obsession with his father’s old watch. Before Butch is to go fight, he has a flashback memory to hearing about his father and receiving the watch. His outlook on life has been changed ever since learning about the loss of his dad. He grew up not knowing his father, which is a common result of war with the many men being killed and their wives remaining at home. War is an incident that has touched every generation in some way and has destroyed families just like Robert E. Lee described.

The Wild Card entry is based off of the idea that Tarantino would like to make a movie of John Brown’s raid. This is a possible first draft script of what Tarantino’s movie could be like. The screenplay displayed in this portfolio is based off of the style of Quentin Tarantino. I have placed my best effort writing this scene in Tarantino style while remaining historically accurate. I try to present John Brown as the American hero Tarantino sees him to be.

This portfolio vividly explains what effects a war can have on any kind of person. It damages the happiness of life whether it is robbing a family member or murdering a fellow human being. It places hate into the victims’ hearts and sometimes even the victors’ hearts. General Robert E. Lee understood the many results of war, and his knowledge provides viewers of Tarantino’s films and readers of my papers a broader scope of the true horrors of war.

Notes

1. “Biography: General Robert E. Lee” American Experience. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2010. Web. 21 April 2013. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/grant-lee/>.

2. “Robert E. Lee.” History. A&E Television Networks, 2013. Web. 21 April 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/robert-e-lee>.

3. “Robert E. Lee Quotes.” Son of the South. Son of the South, 2008. Web. 21 April 2013. <http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Notable%20Lee%20Quotes.htm>.

4. DeCaro Jr., Louis A.  “John Brown the Abolitionist—A Biographer’s Blog.” Blogger.com. Web. 22 April 2013. <http://abolitionist-john-brown.blogspot.com/2007/04/martin-quentin-and-john-should.html

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