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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Gregor Jordan

Aired July 14, 2003 - 19:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, remember "M*A*S*H" or "Catch- 22," movies about war during wartime, about the craziness of war and its warriors?
Well, a new movie in the same tradition is opening this month, also at a time when U.S. troops are fighting overseas.

But as Jason Carroll reports, "Buffalo Soldiers" is already running into enemy fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're gun- smuggling, gas station-destroying, car-smashing soldiers. It's the U.S. military, Miramax-style. The studio is about to release "Buffalo Soldiers." The movie takes a satirical stab at U.S. soldiers stationed in West Germany in 1989.

Critics say if audiences are looking for patriotism, look elsewhere Actor-slash-antihero Joaquin Phoenix leads a pack of soldiers who fight boredom by dealing and doing drugs.

THELMA ADAMS, FILM CRITIC, "US WEEKLY": I'm not saying that the military is perfect. But nobody expects it to be. But this is really a movie that just shows the bad side.

CARROLL: The film was conceived and created pre-9/11. Miramax postponed its release several times due to world events, not unusual in Hollywood. Just recently, "Phone Booth," a movie about a sniper, was delayed due to the D.C. sniper attacks. And "The Core," which featured a shuttle-like craft, was pushed back after the shuttle disaster.

But some say in this new day and age, "Buffalo Soldiers" is bound to provoke, no matter when it's released.

GLENN KENNY, CHIEF FILM CRITIC, "PREMIERE": I think if I were running Miramax, I would, you know, just say, What the hell, and throw the dice, because I think that, you know, in this particular context, this movie is going to get a lot of flak.

CARROLL: The film's name is drawing fire too. The term "buffalo soldier" was given to black soldiers sent to fight Native Americans out West after the Civil War. The Native Americans coined the name out of respect for their adversaries, who they said were fierce, dedicated fighters. PAUL J. MATTHEWS, BUFFALO SOLDIERS NATIONAL MUSEUM: The question should be, why would you name a movie that is so disrespectful about a legendary group of individuals? I mean, that's the issue.

CARROLL (on camera): One Miramax executive told us that "'Buffalo Soldiers' is a thought-provoking film that does not reflect the troops currently in service."

The film opens here in New York and in Los Angeles on July 25, then it goes nationwide.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, perhaps not since a young Robert Crane portrayed Lieutenant Robert Hogan has a theatrical work proven so polarizing. The man behind this one is director Gregor Jordan, who joins us tonight.

Gregor, thanks for being with us.

GREGOR JORDAN, DIRECTOR, "BUFFALO SOLDIERS": Thank you.

COOPER: You know the criticism that you have probably already received and are going to be receiving once this thing opens late July. People are saying it is unpatriotic, that it portrays the military inaccurately, you know, gun-smuggling, drug-taking, stealing, robberies. Your response?

JORDAN: Well, for a start, it doesn't portray -- I mean, the things that are portrayed in the film are not inaccurate. And if anything, they're toned down from what really happened. And, you know, I've got statistics to prove it. You know, I've Pentagon documents which have things like, you know, murder rates on bases. I mean, there were between...

COOPER: But it does, I mean, it's based on a fictional work, and it...

JORDAN: That's right, yes.

COOPER: ... and it, and it does take a lot of sort of different incidences that may have happened and sort of congeals them into one character and one group of characters.

JORDAN: Right, yes. I mean, it is a work of fiction, but, you know, as "Platoon" was a work of fiction as well. No one sort of doubts the authenticity of it. It, you know, it is based on real types of things that went on at this time. I mean, you know, it really is a movie about a time and a place, you know, it was -- it's set in 1989. It is not set now.

It is not saying that the Army in this particular film is the Army now, and...

COOPER: Would it -- would the film be a different -- I mean, you shot this film before September 11 occurred.

JORDAN: Yes, that's right.

COOPER: Miramax bought this film September 10, 2001.

JORDAN: That's right.

COOPER: Would this be a very different film had you shot it post-September 11?

JORDAN: Look, it's hard to say. I mean, you know, like I say, this film was made before there was such a thing as September the 11th. And, I mean, when I was trying to get the film financed, the biggest concern expressed by potential financiers was over the drug use, like, no one batted an eyelid about a, you know, cynical depiction of the military, or satirical depiction.

Whereas now, no one thinks about the drugs. It is, you know, it's all about the military, which is sort of, you know, to me, says more about the people viewing the film than it does about the actual film.

COOPER: Is it, I mean, in your mind, a criticism of the U.S. military?

JORDAN: No, I don't think it is at all. I mean, it's looking at a problem that existed and really, you know, did exist. And, you know, and from what I read in the newspapers and what I hear still to a certain extent (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: But is it a problem that exists in particular in the U.S. military...

JORDAN: No.

COOPER: ... in your opinion, or any military, because of the sort of the nature of war?

JORDAN: No, that's right. That's right, yes. It's actually something that goes beyond politics. It is not necessarily about left or right. It's actually about something more fundamental, about why people want to keep fighting. And, you know, and in that sense, you could set it in any army. You could set it in the Russian army or the Chinese army or the British army or the Australian army.

COOPER: All right. Well, Gregor Jordan, I appreciate you coming in to talk about the film. A lot of people have been talking about it, and not a lot of people have seen it. It happens -- it opens the end of July. So we'll have to wait and see. Thank you very much.

JORDAN: Thank you.

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