View from the Bridge: 48

by John Morrison


48: Compromise or Bust

The anti-war vigil in Milltown has had a startling and unforseen effect: Saddam Hussein has decided to throw in the towel as a tyrannical dictator, and try his hand instead as a stand-up on Baghdad's emergent comedy circuit.

So it's celebratory drinks all round in the pubs of Milltown. Except at the Grievous Bodily Arms, of course, where the regulars were looking forward to watching the war live on satellite TV. At least when there was no football on. An uncritical audience, they'd have been happy if Gulf War II had repeated some of the finest cinematic moments of Gulf War I. With just a few more explosions and special effects.

They're naturally disappointed. Some of the original production team may have dropped out, but we still had the film world's two most charismatic directors, both talking up the film. The screenplay had already been written. OK, the fighting was going to be a bit one-sided, but, hey, who's complaining? The film crew had been flown in from all around the globe. Now they're sitting around, bemused, playing cards, wondering what to do with all that expensive hardware.

Thousands of extras - Kurds, mostly - had been written into the plot to add some local colour and push up the body count for CNN. It even seemed that the leading man was prepared to don that lovable walrus moustache one more time and reprise his most famous role as a crazed despot.

Gulf War II was planned as a made-for-TV pilot to introduce the viewing public to a more extended series in the pipeline, with a working title of World War III. It was 'all systems go'.

And then, at the very last minute, a stranger rides into Baghdad and hitches up his horse. He's quiet, softly spoken, almost diffident; he doesn't even have a gun. It's a role that Jimmy Stewart used to play to perfection. And now, before you can say "collateral damage", the film's been cancelled.

But there's nothing wrong with the plot of Gulf War II. With a bit of luck we'll be able to assemble the production team again in five year's time. There'll probably be some new faces, but as long as that jovial bloke with the big moustache is still around there'll always be a chance we can finally get this film in the can.

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