When asked why he made The Forgotten, director Vincente Stasolla talks about two different things. First, is his inspiration to make a war movie in general.
"I wanted to do a war movie to pull off an extraordinary feat in low-budget filmmaking. I wanted to hit a grand slam with making an independent film. Especially with the actors, all the vehicles, and the equipment," says Stasolla.
But more specifically, there are a number of reasons why he decided to make not just a war movie, but a movie about the Korean War in particular.
"The Korean War, because it's really never been talked about," Vincente explains. "It really hasn't been addressed. I mean, we're still kind of living with the repercussions today. The Korean War really set the stage for the 21st century."
And going even farther back, it's clear that his interest in making a film about this particular war, the Korean War, isn't just historical -- it's personal as well.
"I was familiar with it, because my uncle was in it. My dad was going to go . . . So I knew a decent amount about it," Stasolla relates.
Once he had made the decision to make the movie, Stasolla went to the ultimate font of information about the war: the people who had fought it. He turned to Korean War veterans as his source.
"I met with a lot of war veterans, who were there," Stasolla recalls. "One guy is an actor, who was also a POW in the army, in Korea. I worked with him pretty extensively. He gave me the stamp of approval on the script, and worked with my actors . . . "
Because of the nature of the "forgotten war," Korean War veterans associations have a different approach than other war veterans organizations. Part of their purpose is not only the admirable one of caring for their own, but also to inform Americans in general about the Korean War, and it's continuing effect on the current world situation.
In fact, the official Korean War Veterans Association Web site has, as one of it's features, the "Tell America Program." This program's mission is to "make a difference in . . . schools and communities, in their understanding of the Korean War and the freedoms we enjoy today."
It's a noble goal, and an important one. Because of it's position between a war with far more highly identifiable enemies (World War II) and the first war to receive massive television coverage (the Vietnam War), the Korean War truly is the "forgotten war."
And of course, this extends to the war veterans themselves. Upon their return from the Korean War, veterans were not feted as were those who returned from World War II. Neither was their experience clear to the populace, as it was for Vietnam War veterans. Korean war veterans were (and still are), unfortunately, often overlooked -- even dismissed.
One veteran who Stasolla interviewed even related a story about his return from the Korean War, in which one of his friends asked him where he had been!
Stasolla's understanding is clear: "We lost an extraordinary amount of soldiers in only a three-year period. We didn't achieve a tactical victory. So it was kind of left in limbo, and they don't really talk about it."
His passion is reflected in Korean War veterans' response to the film. "These guys thought I really did a good job of zeroing in on the individual experience, because it's not a big, epic war film. It's more individual profiles -- a psychological journey. The climate of rolling around in a 40-ton can, with five guys, really gets very intimate, and very tense. The veterans responded to it well; they really liked it. They thought I captured it well."
In the end, The Forgotten is a movie about Korean war veterans, even more than it is a film about the Korean War. Hopefully, the people who watch the film will have a greater understanding about the brave soldiers who sacrified so much for those of us at home.