The Movie Three Kings, according to the criteria of author Tim O’brien, is both a true war story and not a true war story at the same time. This is because, according to O’brien, a true war story is not about being brave but being a coward. throughout the movie, the soldiers are shown contemplating whether or not the war or particular battle is worthy of possibly dying for. O’brien also states that a true war story is unbelievable. There are many scenes in the film where simple scenery or complex dialogue seem so fake that it is almost humorous, making it a true war story. Lastly, according to O’brien, a true war story is not uplifting, yet the movie has a fairly happy and optimistic ending and specific scenes. Although O’brien's criteria for a true war story appears many places in the film, in many ways the film also strays from this criteria.
According to Tim O’brien, A true war story is about fighting the urge to be a coward and what it means to be a coward. The movie Three Kings In many ways addresses this topic truthfully and also shows the main characters struggling with this throughout. Almost all of the soldiers in the film are in their early twenties and are the college going age. They are very immature and in many cases unintelligent and uneducated as shown through the wording in dialogue of the movie. This in a way shows innocence and youth by showing how inexperienced these soldiers are. However, these young innocent men are forced to choose whether or not they are willing to die for a war they are confused about. On many occasions the character Troy Barlow says things like “I got a wife and kids”, showing that he is not willing to or is hesitant to kill himself for the battles in the film. In this way, throughout the movie, Troy and other soldiers battle the urge to commit cowardice, making Three Kings a true war story according to O’brien.
Furthermore, O’brien states that a true war story is unbelievable. In many scenes of the movie, the dramatic explosions and awe strikingly bleak landscapes of iraq are almost unbelievable to the eye, and evoke a sense of disbelief. More specifically, Troy Barlow is tortured and electrocuted by a man named Captain Said, in a scene that is probably the least believable of the whole movie. Before maliciously torturing him, Captain asks him “what is the problem with Michael Jackson?”. This comparatively innocent question about popular american culture is asked in the last placed you would ever expect it, a middle eastern torture chamber. Yet, it is events like these that O’brien refers to, and that make war so unbelievable, which is why he makes it a criteria for a true war story.
Lastly, Tim O’brien believes that a true war story is not uplifting. However, this movie is a fairly uplifting one. It has a happy ending, and the soldiers are often shown partying and rejoicing after battle, however, in reality it is more realistic that the men would be morning the men and innocent civilians lost at battle. Specifically, after a battle in Kuwait, the men chant in tandem “We liberated Kuwait!” to a nearby reporter and start singing patriotic tunes. The movie then shows the men in a disco-esque party singing and dancing. Even more obviously uplifting is the classic movie ending with the list of “what became of our heros”. Each men given an equally fitting career, future, family, and care-free lifestyle. However, in reality, a true war story is never uplifting and neither does it have an overarching moral or sense of optimism. In this way, Three Kings does not fit Tim O’brien’s criteria for a true war story.
Overall This movie was both a true war story and a false one for different reasons. Although the feelings of disbelief, immaturity, and fear seem to be very omnipresent tones in this movie, there is almost a fake quality as well. This is mainly due to the seemingly added uplifting ending to give you a reason why all the events just ensued even though there may not have been one. Or the also seemingly added in editorial scenes showing the men partying when they should have been pondering the magnitude of what just ensued.