Friday, November 30, 2001

Hollywood has joined in the nation’s patriotic fervor with the early release of a movie about a trapped soldier and the commander who defies orders to save him.
It will enjoy success, judging by the cheers and applause from members of Congress, their staffs and D.C. technocrats at a private Wednesday night screening of “Behind Enemy Lines” in the amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The film opens in theaters today.
“There is a national need for heroes and to understand what ‘hero’ means post-September 11,” said 20th Century Fox President Parker Hutch, who pushed the film’s release date forward from March. While the film certainly was meant to be entertaining, Mr. Hutch stressed that he hoped it also would elicit a “sense of pride in the servicemen and women defending our country.”
Staffers outnumbered members of Congress 20-to-1 at the pre-screening reception and post-film party. Still, a bipartisan mix of congressmen, including Sen. Max Cleland from Georgia, a Vietnam veteran, and Reps. Todd Akin of Missouri and Jim Ryun of Kansas, ducked in to enjoy the high-tech action flick after a long day on Capitol Hill.
Two members of the House Armed Services Committee said they found the film exciting, suspenseful and even a bit useful.
“The timing couldn’t be better because of the resurgence of patriotism in the country,” said Rep. Mike McIntyre. The North Carolina Democrat said the film allowed “visceral involvement” in what soldiers really go through in battle.
His Republican colleague from Pennsylvania, Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, a Vietnam veteran with aerial combat experience, said the film “accentuated the intensity” of combat. Mr. Pitts said he also was intrigued by the advanced surface-to-air missile system depicted in the film.
“I would certainly be interested in learning more about that,” he said.

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