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Article: Moral Dilemmas

By Elaine Cassel

A Hitchcock classic, Rear Window, depicts issues raised in the debate over the failure of David Cash to try to save the life of 7-year-old Sherrice Iverson. In this 1954 movie, Jimmy Stewart is a photographer, confined to his apartment with a broken leg, who keeps a close watch on his neighbors in order to while away the hours of boredom. The plot revolves around Stewart's increasing suspicions that one of his neighbors is a murderer and what he does to track and trap the killer. His friends think his suspicions are absurd. The movie also makes us consider why the neighbors don't close their blinds or draw their curtains. Do they secretly want their private lives exposed? And what about Stewart's nosiness? Should we admire it or condemn it? Check your video store for availability. As you watch the movie, think about the Strohmeyer case, perhaps with new perspective and insight.

Steven Spielberg has cast war as a good and necessary evil in the blockbuster hit, Saving Private Ryan. Starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, the movie focuses on the necessity of risking the lives of many to save one life, and explores the concept of a just war, one to save mankind from Hitler and the forces of darkness. Smaller acts of compassion yield differing results. An American infantryman dies trying to save a French child from combat fire. But another intended act of compassion, letting the sole survivor of a German squadron walk away to his freedom, backfires when the man rejoins the German troops. Ultimately, the movie is about six heroic soldiers who followed orders that they questioned and did not understand, because of their duty and obligation as soldiers. The movie is about alturism, compassion, sacrifices, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do-and its power lies in its honest depiction of the moral ambiguities of war.

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