Watch A Soldier's Story
- 1 hr 41 min
A Soldier's Story is a 1984 American drama film directed by Norman Jewison and based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Charles Fuller. It stars Howard E. Rollins Jr. as Captain Davenport, a young, idealistic black officer investigating the murder of a black Army sergeant in Louisiana during World War II. The film also features Adolph Caesar as Sargeant Waters, the victim of the murder, and Art Evans as Private Wilkie, a suspect in the case. The film takes place in 1944, when the U.S. Army was still segregated and African American soldiers were fighting in a war against fascism abroad while facing racism and discrimination at home. A group of black soldiers is stationed at Fort Neal, near a small town in Louisiana, waiting to be shipped to Europe. One night, Sergeant Waters is found dead, shot in the head, and Captain Davenport is sent to investigate the case. At first, Davenport is met with hostility and suspicion from the other soldiers, who see him as a "college boy" who doesn't understand the army or the black experience. He also clashes with Waters' former platoon leader, Captain Taylor, a white officer who resents Davenport for questioning his men and interfering with their training. However, Davenport is determined to find out what happened to Waters and to uncover the truth behind his murder, even if it means facing his own prejudices and the systemic racism of the army. As Davenport interviews the witnesses and delves deeper into Waters' past, he uncovers a web of secrets and tensions within the black soldiers' community. He learns about the abusive and tyrannical behavior of Waters towards his men, and the resentment and fear he instilled in them. He also discovers that Waters had a personal vendetta against Private Wilkie, whom he saw as a troublemaker and a potential threat to his authority. However, Davenport realizes that the truth is more complex than he initially thought, and that each character has their own motivations and hidden agendas. The film is a powerful exploration of themes such as identity, race, masculinity, class, and power, and it raises important questions about justice, accountability, and morality. It portrays the black soldiers as complex and diverse individuals who are struggling to assert their dignity and honor in a hostile environment that dehumanizes them. It also shows the impact of war on the soldiers' psyche and their relationships, as well as the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws on the American society. The performances in A Soldier's Story are outstanding, especially by Howard E. Rollins Jr. and Adolph Caesar, who both deliver nuanced and powerful portrayals of their characters. Rollins Jr. brings a sense of empathy and intelligence to Captain Davenport, making him a compelling protagonist who is both empathetic and flawed. Caesar's performance as Sargeant Waters is equally captivating, as he embodies the cruelty and bitterness of a man who has been broken by his experiences. Overall, A Soldier's Story is a gripping and thought-provoking film that deserves to be remembered as one of the best movies about the African American experience in the U.S. Army. It is a timeless story of human nature and morality, and it sheds light on the struggles and achievements of black soldiers who fought for their country while facing discrimination and prejudice.