I can’t think of any country in the world which has the same kind of fascination with the ‘all-action hero’ as the United States of America. Whilst Action Man may have started out as a toy, during the 1980s there was an obsession with one-man killing machines. Whilst Arnie, Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis may have vied for the crown, it was ultimately Sylvester Stallone’s depiction of John Rambo which ticked all the boxes. His character was based on Bo Gritz, or so he claims.
James “Bo” Gritz is a former United States Special Forces officer. He served his country for over twenty years, including in the Vietnam War. He’s probably most famous/notorious for his attempts to rescue POWs in Southeast Asia during the 1980s. The fact he did this off his own back epitomises the conundrum which is at the heart of Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s documentary Erase and Forget. He exhibits typical alt right tendencies. Clearly passionate about his country and protective of its people, but exhibiting the nasty intolerant behaviour we’ve come to expect.
Zimmerman’s relationship with her subject has spanned over a decade, and along with footage from various public sources she produces a thoughtful and non-judgemental portrait of a larger than life figure. He’s a one-man self-marketing machine and it’s almost impossible to tell fact from fiction. In that sense, he was ahead of his time. Erase and Forget is a fascinating documentary about a colourful character, which leaves you wanting to know more.
Erase and Forget is in selected cinemas from 2 March.