Q: The title comes from the valley where David fought Goliath.
Haggis: In that story, this young boy offers to fight a giant that all the king’s bravest and strongest warriors won’t fight. It’s a story of incredible bravery. This kid was, like, fourteen years old, and he stepped up there with this stone and stood there as this giant charged. Incredibly brave. When we hear these stories we think, “My God! I want to be like that.”
So, these boys [American soldiers] go off wanting to be heroes, thinking that they’re going there to support freedom. And then they find out they’re doing the opposite. They realize that they’re not the David, they’re the Goliath. They end up doing things, seeing things, that they can’t live with. They’re killing civilians; they have to face that on a daily basis. They have to walk through that village and see that mother dead with her child in her arms.
Now if these were bad men, it wouldn’t affect them. But these are good men. Even the ones who don’t really know anything know that this shouldn’t be happening. And so it affects them. Maybe we can see through their eyes and empathize. Maybe we can see how it’s destroying them. Maybe we can see how it’s destroying our society. And then maybe we’ll change something. It’s not a murder mystery, it’s a moral mystery. It’s not about who did it, it’s about who’s responsible.
But I also thought, what kind of king sends a boy to fight a monster that he won’t fight himself? I mean, how cowardly, how corrupt, are the leaders sending those men over there unprepared for what they’re going to face? This isn’t just about Bush. It goes back a long time, if you look at the history of our wars. That’s the way we solve disputes. By invading people. Somebody should stand up and say, “That’s not American. That’s not the America I love.”
. . . . . . .
Q: If your purpose though, is to have an impact, to change people’s minds . . .
Haggis: Oh yeah, I’m very disappointed. But I am proud of the fact that it did best exactly where I wanted it to do best—in the Midwest and the South.
I think that’s largely because their children are affected by this. Walk through Santa Monica and try to find somebody who knows a young man or woman who’s in this war. Here, war is an intellectual concept. If you lose your son or daughter, it’s no longer an intellectual matter.