An officer and a gentleman
Director: Taylor Hackford
Cast: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Lisa Blount, David Keith, Louis Gossett Junior
Loneliness, frustration, ambition, survival, romance, heartbreak, loyalty, sense of duty ---- the 1982- classic An Officer And A Gentleman captures so many facets of human emotions and relationships. Many critics have labeled it as a romantic saga but to me, the film is more a journey of self-discovery.
An Officer And A Gentleman tells a story of a rebellious youth (Richard Gere), who has survived a difficult childhood. His mother’s suicide, his reckless father’s neglect and his growing up in a sleazy neighbourhood – everything that he has endured in his formative years, has made him a tough cookie. He has scant respect for authority and no belief in human relations. But all that starts to change when he enrolls himself in a naval training academy to be an aviation officer.
The road to his goal is not easy. He would have to first survive a grueling 13 week training from an abusive, authoritative and disciplinarian sergeant (Louis Gossett Jr.). Friendship of a fellow trainee (David Keith) and week-end companionship of a young girl from a nearby town (Debra Winger) are his only emotional anchors in this difficult journey. But even these people whom he has let come close to him have their own agendas and insecurities to contend with. Will that ruin everything? Will his deep distrust about human values and relationships come in his way of finding true friendship and love? Will he be able to let go of his torturous past to make a better future?
Seeing the young, close-cropped and muscular Gere in this tough role is a far cry from his latter day romantic softies. Debra Winger as his girlfriend, who is deeply in love but too proud to tell; Louis Gossett Jr. as the badmouthing sergeant; David Keith as the good-at-heart friend and Lisa Blount as his selfish girl-friend- are all well-etched believable characters.
Director Taylor Hackford makes this movie into a fluid emotional experience. It is warm; it is gritty; it is emotional. The background of the arduous naval training program is almost used like a metaphor for the difficult challenges posed by the real life. The message of the film is subtle. You can soar free in the sky only if you overcome the obstacles in your path and to do that you must find the inner strength of character to keep dreaming! And that means to accept the inevitability of human frailties and acknowledge the importance of human bonding!