Violence in film can do one of two things, depending in large part on how it is presented: it can either harden the viewer, inducing him to accept as normal, and even to be entertained by, death and bloodshed; or it can awaken the viewer to the horrors of the violence endemic to a fallen world, and the value of the human lives it claims. The first type of violence can be termed gratuitous. The second type I would call sacred.
This “sacred violence” is typified in the film We Were Soldiers, a drama centered on the first major engagement of American troops in the Vietnam War. Rather than concentrating on drug abuse, prostitution, and disillusionment, as so many misguided Vietnam movies do, We Were Soldiers presents young men who truly value their country, trust their leaders, and exhibit astounding faith in God. It is this emphasis on truly admirable and sympathetic heroes that sanctifies the terrible violence that naturally pervades the film.