Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hill 1

"You'll stuff it up!"

The Hill has several areas of concern, one of which is the question of justice.

A weak and effeminate (closet gay) soldier dies as a result of his disciplining at the hands of newly arrived Staff Sargeant Williams and the men in the prison demand that someone be held to account. The only man who is prepared to put himself forward as a witness is the "broken" Sergeant Major Roberts, who has been arrested for refusing to lead his men to certain death and punching his commanding officer. Roberts is the disruptive, progressive figure in the Glasshouse, a correctional facility for soldiers, who draws  other staff and soldiers into his conflict with his nemesis, Williams, who arrives in the camp the same day. He shares his cell with three other men after Steven's death, Monty a fat, illiterate Spiv, Mc Grath, a brawling Yorkshireman and Jacko a black soldier. On the Staff side the sympathetic figures are Harris a gay, liberal staff Sergeant and the bumbling and ineffective Medical Officer.

At the end of the film ( a conclusion often judged to be the film's dramatic weakness by critics) the flimsy possibility of justice that has been brought about, the coalition between the men prepared to testify and the staff prepared to protect them is undermined by the men themselves, by Jacko and McGrath attacking Staff Sergeant Harris. This is the conservative message of The Hill, that there is the possibility that the good, progressive Men of Rank can, in alliance, bring about change and see that justice prevails but this is doomed to fail, compromised by the bestiality of the proles and the inferior races whose lack of self control will only condemn them all to remain subjects of power. The tragedy of The Hill is that the subaltern classes don't know what is good for them, they have only directionless rage and immediate gratification, unlike the higher ranks who believe in and understand the reforming power of institutions.

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