There’s no shortage of wars that the United States of America haven’t been involved in, but out of all of them the conflict in Vietnam may just be the one that they wish they’d thought twice about. Brutal, bloody and costing scores of lives over the years, the Vietnam War still stands as a sobering reminder of just how catastrophic a battle between an unstoppable spear and an immovable shield could really be.
Caught in the middle of this war between ideologies and politics run amok, were the soldiers on the ground. Pawns to be thrown at verdant battlefields that were choking from all the blood spilled on them, Vietnam’s landscape still bears the scars of a war that should never have been fought in the first place. That doesn’t mean that some heroes didn’t rise to the occasion though.
Take the example of U.S. Air Force Pararescue medic William Pitsenbarger, whose exploits made him a legend amongst other soldiers and an icon who was never given the Medal of Honor that his fellow brothers in arms truly believed that he deserved. Decades after the war ended and long after the death of Pitsenbarger, a campaign to see him posthumously awarded the highest honour that the army could provide saw his legend grow.
Based on the true story of a present-day cover-up investigation, “The Last Full Measure” follows young Pentagon investigator Scott Huffman (Stan) as he battles the political machine in Washington. He reluctantly teams with veterans of Operation Abilene to convince Congress to award the Medal of Honor to a courageous Air Force medic, William Pitsenbarger, who is seen saving the lives of over 60 Marines ambushed in one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
As the battle waged on, and after the last helicopter left, he continued to save lives until his own was sacrificed.
A legend that is currently being told in The Last Full Measure, directed by Todd Robinson. With an A-List cast that includes Peter Fonda in his final acting role, Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, Samuel L. Jackson, William Hurt, Bradley Whitford, Michael Imperioli, Ed Harris and a whole lot more of Hollywood’s top-tier talent lead the film.
What The Last Measure also has, is a soundtrack which focuses on framing the life of a soldier through tracks that are haunting and heroic in their execution. You can thank Philip Klein for the score, which not only had to support a massive cast but also nail the requirements of Robinson’s specific direction. “When I met him and listened to his ideas, I immediately felt at ease with him,” Robinson explained.
I have a musical background myself, so I have a dangerous vernacular, meaning that I’m not afraid to describe what I’m looking for — even though describing something that hasn’t been created is always a tricky thing. But the themes he came up with, and the instrumentation —the oboes, the cellos, the brass — and how they inform the performances and the emotion of the scenes was magical.
And then he went to Prague and recorded the score with the Czech Symphony Orchestra. Philip is just a huge talent. I think we will all be hearing a lot from him going forward.
The Last Full Measure releases next week, with the score arriving on January 24 alongside the film through Atlantic Screen Scores via BFD and The Orchard.
Last Updated: January 23, 2020