“Only the Brave”, directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on the GQ article by Sean Flynn, is a rather frightening Imax dramatic account of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, 19 of whom were trapped by Yarnell Hill fire in western Arizona on June 30, 2013, and roasted to death, despite being inside their fire bags. The film release is timely given the recent destructive wildfires around Santa Rosa CA especially.
I presume the film has a lot of real footage of the fires, which explode and approach with shocking speed.
Much of the story concerns the group’s founder Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), his wife (Jennifer Connelly), and one particular firefighter with a criminal record whom Eric hires and takes under his wing, Brendan McDonough, played by Miles Teller. Now Teller often plays the charismatic young man who falls under the spell of an older mentor (as the jazz drummer in “Whiplash” (2014), so sometimes his roles seem self-contradictory. His bod gets tested enough, first by P.T. (he vomits after finishing an uphill sprint the first time), and then by a desert rattler bite in the middle of the film, where Brendan does without the painkillers and anti-venom (and gets his bandages torn off his leg at a party rather unceremoniously). But once his daughter is born, he almost quits in order to be a better dad, before Eric talks that down. Really, we’re too valuable to die only when we have kids? Brendan is generous with radical hospitality, offering a teammate a room to stay in his apartment. Brendan, working as a “foreword observer” and apart from the unit, is the only member to survive.
In fact, the movie seems to convey a moral message about physical courage and risk sharing. The Hot Shots are like a military unit, and individualistic men probably would not fit into it. The rest of us depend on young men to sacrifice themselves, when life goes on for us.
The film twice gives us the image of a burning bear (grizzly), all its body hair on fire, fleeing the flames alive.
It’s noteworthy that women are not shown as members of the hot shots. There is old-fashioned unit cohesion among the men; sexuality (outside of Brendan’s daddyhood) and gender never come up in conversation.
Yarnell Hill Fire picture, Wiki.
Picture: brush in southern Nevada, my trip, 2012. Second picture: residual fire damage about Gatlinburg TN, six months after fire, my visit, July 10, 2017.
|Name:||“Only the Brave”|
|Director, writer:||Joseph Kosinski|
|When and how viewed:||AMC Tysons 2017/10/23, afternoon fair crowd|
|Companies:||Sony Columbia Pictures, Black Label Media|
(Posted: Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 at 11:30 PM EDT)