Men with Guns

John Sayles’s Men with Guns is a story of a retired physician who seeks to learn the result of a project to send newly trained physicians to the provinces of a Spanish-speaking country where indigenous peoples live without proper medical care. What the physician finds, instead of a fulfillment of the aims of the project, is that everyone is caught up in a life-and-death struggle between government and guerrilla forces. Any medical help to villagers is perceived as aiding either the government or the guerrillas, neither of which appear to be engaged in heroism. The physician’s naïveté is shattered, and the audience learns that the spiral of violence is endless unless the public awakens to the reality that indigenous peoples have a right to life without molestation, yet their plight is used cynically by guerrillas, who in turn provoke senseless violence from government forces. MH