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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Unclaimed

unclaimed

At the end of the Vietnam war, it was claimed that no American soldiers were left behind enemy lines.  Director Michael Jorgensen’s documentary Unclaimed somewhat challenges this statement with this story about a man, who is located living in Vietnam and claims to be a long missing American soldier.  The film’s main focus, and narrator, is Vietnam veteran Tom Faunce, who has spent most of the years since the war working as a missionary.  He hears a story about man living in Vietnam claiming to be John Hartley Robertson, an American soldier who was thought to have been killed in action during the war.  Even though the man claiming to be John looks entirely Caucasian, he no longer speaks a word of English and is forgetful of many details about his life.  However, Tom is convinced that the man is John Hartley Robertson and makes it his personal mission to prove his identity and bring John home to see his family one last time.

According to the film, there are entire agencies in the United States, which investigate individuals claiming to be MIA soldiers.  These agencies turn out to be Tom’s biggest obstacle when it comes to proving John’s identity, since they seem more concerned with sweeping the incident under the rug.  There is one case, where it is claimed that DNA test was performed, which resulted in a false match.  However, John’s living family members claimed that they never provided any DNA for such tests.  In fact, it has come to the point that many of these MIA organisations are now under investigation for possible fraudulent activity.

However, Unclaimed isn’t really about the fact that there are likely many more American ex-pats, who were left behind enemy lines, dating back to World War II.  The film is more about Tom and his undying determination to prove that John is the man that he claims he is.  Tom had a tough life, which saw him struggle with drugs and he found himself in and out of jail.  He found a new lease on life when he became an missionary and he now dedicates his life to helping others.

In the end, Unclaimed works as both an expose of MIA organisations and their apparent reluctance to validate claims of missing soldiers living abroad, as well as a feel good story about one of these solder’s quest to be reunited with his family.  The film does leave some questions unanswered, however I still have to say that the story told in the film does come to a very satisfying conclusion.

8 | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).