No artist works in a vacuum, and when creating a work of art it's impossible not to have been influenced by people you admired. The Forgotten director Vincente Stasolla is no exception. In fact, he freely admits to being inspired by others before him, not only filmmakers, but other people as well.
The clearest nods are to critically-acclaimed writer/director -- and highly decorated war veteran -- Samuel Fuller. Two of Fuller's movies, The Steel Helmet and Fixed Bayonets, were among the first (if not the first) films made about the Korean War.
"He made low-budget war films in the '50s. He had a very minimalist style, and I liked that a lot," Stasolla says about Fuller. The Steel Helmet was reportedly made for only $105,000. It was shot in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, and employed 25 UCLA students as extras, as well as a tank constructed from plywood.
In addition, like Stasolla, Fuller tackled controversial subjects. In fact 1951's The Steel Helmet included the baiting of a black soldier by a North Korean POW. The Forgotten's portrayal of the relationship between the obviously racist Jake O'Brian and the company's two black soldiers, Philip Cook and Michael Anderson, doesn't pull any punches.
"I didn't curb that at all, because that's the reality of it," Stasolla explains. "The Korean War was the first time we had integrated units. That made it very interesting. And I remember my uncle, the sergeant, telling me some stories about how rough it was for some of the african-american soldiers -- how they were treated by some of the other GIs."
Stasolla also adds that he "loved David Lean's films: the wide angle landscapes, and the vistas, and the warm colors." Known for epic pictures like Bridge Over the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia, Lean was another critically-acclaimed director, who in his turn won the praise of Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, among others.
Vincente also cites Terrence Malick, writer/director of war movie The Thin Red Line among his influences, referencing "the whole nature influence. There is a lot of nature in my film. Shots of nature, interaction with nature."
Of course, the Korean War Veterans with whom Stasolla spoke before writing the film played a large part in its formulation. Regarding the Korean War, Vincente says "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. But I still did have to do some research. I met with a lot of veterans."
Above all, The Forgotten is a realistic study of human relationships, and how people behave during the stress of war time. "You've got to remember that a lot of the tankers were farm boys -- black or white. They were good with machines, at fixing things that were breaking down. So these guys are kind of rough and tumble, and spoke their minds. The politics in the tank, and the discussions . . . their communication with each other was definitely very, very rough."