Free «The Best Years of Our Lives by Wyler William» Essay Sample


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The Best Years of Our Lives is an American drama film directed by William Wyler. This film is about servicemen who try to return their lives, after coming back from Second World War. The film shows the hardship faced by military officers after returning from  Civil War.

The film, All in the Family: The Draft Dodger by Norma Lear and Bud Yorkin, explores the idea of citizenship and how its conception changes from time to time. Both films show that citizenship is not just a question of birth right or nationality, but also a right earned through patriotism in the battle field.  This essay argues that the understanding of American citizenship is not fixed, but there is a dynamic conception that has been shifted over the years as a result of changing socio-cultural and political contexts.

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The concept of citizenship has acquired renewed popularity and progress during the last 20 years. This has been in response to the misfortunes of the post-war, social and political settlements. Some of the soldiers, who joined for the sake of  World War 11, had friendly families and lived happily. For example, Al in The Best Years of Our Lives was initially a bank loan officer (Stevenson, 2001). This  clearly shows f the gaps that arise between civilian and military worlds. These soldiers experience nightmares of combat, challenges because of lost limbs, and this stress forces them to daily drinking habits. However, it was not easy for some soldiers who came back with the trauma and faced some citizenship discrimination.

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For example, after the war American soldiers received medals of honour and none award was given to the courageous Africans.  Similarly, it is demonstrated in the film, as the soldiers get some privileges to obtain soft loans in the banks or to come back to their work. Before the war, the concept of citizenship was highly recognised, but signs of citizenship betrayal emanated after the war, as shown in the movie. The right to live and work is what may be termed as citizenship; therefore, military participation is one of the citizenship concepts. Before the Vietnam, the citizenship concept on military participation was not well defined.  After the war, there was an establishment of professional military, and rights of veterans were respected.

In conclusion, soldiering and citizenship are in a quasi-contractual relationship. As it is shown in the film, the government demands from citizens to become soldiers, while, citizens in return demand political, social and civil rights. However, after years of war when the soldiers came back with lost arms, the citizens started to be scared to join the army. This means that, the relationship will fail as citizens refuse to enlist in the army, due to the consequences in their families after the war.

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