Last night I went to see Tigerland with Nick H and Scott – two gay friends of mine. I’ve been trying to persuade people to go for a while, but with a certain lack of success. “Not a Vietnam movie,” someone said. “I’m just not in the mood,” said another. So I considered it a particular triumph to have managed to get two young gay men, who were both hoping to go clubbing, to sit in a cinema and watch a film about war, violence, men and aggression. Then, of course, I saw Colin Farrell and everything became clear.
Tigerland is not a particularly revolutionary film. It’s got elements of M*A*S*H in it, but really it’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in Boot Camp. There’s nothing wrong with that of course – it’s an admirable height to aspire to, and for the most part it doesn’t go that far wrong. In fact the only part that didn’t sit right with me was the last twenty minutes or so, when they finally reach Tigerland itself.
But there was something about the film that perturbed me from the offset, and fairly swiftly I realised what it was. There was a heavy eroticisation of the male bodies on display. There are shower scenes, shot from below to make the actor look more athletic, taller and imposing. There are a couple of confrontations in underpants. And the sheer amount of arse on display is enough to make even the hardened fan of the male body raise a quizzical eyebrow. Whether or not this is to do with the reknowned homosexuality of director Joel Schumacher or not is beside the point – although let us remember that it was under his auspices that Batman and Robin suddenly developed nipples. The whole thing reminded me just slightly too much of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue…