The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien

alumni films | News @ Wesleyan

There are so many different narratives that we experience in our lifetime and for every path we take there are countless others we will never see. These experiences alter one’s perception of the world that life may or will never be the same again. War, in all its forms forever lingers with those that lived through it and each I would have to assume still carry a small part of that with themselves today. Documentarian Aaron Matthews’ new film The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien we follow author Tim O’Brien, writer of The Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato, as he tries to write his last book after 15 years.

The reason behind O’Brien’s hiatus is an admirably one, he wanted to spend time with his two sons Timmy and Tad. The motivation behind his newest and self admittedly final novel, Dad’s Maybe Book, is also met with equal admiration as he wants to leave something behind for both his sons. This film serves as a self-realization moment for Tim because he knows he only has so much time left to spend with his family at the age of 74. The film is more about Tim’s dealing with life around him and less about the context of the novel itself. Although, he does admit that not having been present when his father passed he could only wish to have found something written by him and to him; that it would feel like receiving a gift. The film also shows how Tim sees the world around him: still engulfed in war not learning anything from the past and having seen the worst there is while serving in Vietnam, he ponders if his sons will ever have to experience such an event.

I have never read Tim O’Brien’s work but watching him try to leave his sons with something that will help them well after he has left this world is beyond commendable. It is unfortunate that such drastic events leave such a scar on our souls but at the same time allow us to see our surroundings differently than others; it is the constant battle within ourselves that offer any semblance of peace.  


3 out of 5

Film is available now via Amazon Prime, Apple TV, YouTube Movies, Google Play Movies, Vimeo, Fandango, Microsoft & Vudu

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