The Departed

The Departed
Credits: Self

Originally published on Letterboxd on 30/07/22

“Exactly. You're nobody. You signed the papers, remember?”

Was struck by the perpetual stream of montage on display here this time- there aren't crescendos in tension or climactic revelations so much as there are procedural adjustments. The war has to go on, and part of that includes the cycle of mourning; soldiers die, their coffins are emblazoned with flags so as to conceal their malfeasance under the banner of the state, and the three-volley salute signals another call to arms.

In this vein, the film brings to mind Ford's The Long Gray Line, another text on war (though in more conventional terms than the urban, localised warfare on display here) whose form is almost entirely reliant upon a series of montages charting a course from the cradle to the grave. Much like Ford's film, there is a certain residual bitterness towards the end, where the members of the military-industrial complex resign themselves to the necessity of structural readjustment, even at the cost of death. The difference though, is that Ford's film closes on the promise of memory, having unfolded through what is essentially a confessional. Here, there is no memory because there is no trace of personhood, or at least that which you can carve out for yourself. The only mode of personhood that exists is that which is forced upon you, and which can be stripped when your utility is exhausted.