Soldiers Story, A (1984, U.S.A.)

Studio: Sony/ Columbia/ TriStar

Rating: M

Running time: 92 minutes

Available Format: 16mm

Director Norman Jewison explores themes in “A Soldier’s story” similar to his Academy Award-winning “In the Heat of the Night”.

An all black platoon at a Georgia army base practices baseball while waiting to join WWII. They’re led by the sadistic Sergeant Vernon Waters.  He rules the platoon with an iron fist and shouts harsh, racist comments.  Even though he’s an African-American.

“A Soldier’s story” begins with the mysterious murder of Waters.  It then traces the investigation of the crime by black officer, Captain Davenport. Though Davenport suspects two white soldiers of killing Waters, his instincts are proven wrong.  The real killer is a dramatic and moving surprise.

“A Soldier’s story” raises the important issue of race relations in America and how racism and discrimination find their way in such official institutions as the military. In fact, the film shows how the military’s power structure supports the abuse of power and iron force rule. Its message overall is bleak.  In this microcosmic world of the army, racial discrimination has led to a split in the notion of brotherhood among black men in America.  With Sergeant Waters internalising and projecting racial conflict on his blood brothers.

Cast includes Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Art Evans, Denzel Washington and Wings Hauser. Music score by Herbie Hancock.