War film 'Lone Survivor' hits close to home for Bay Area families

The war movie 'Lone Survivor' that tells the story of a deadly mission in Afghanistan is hitting close to home for two Bay Area families.
January 10, 2014 7:07:29 PM PST
A film that opens tonight in many Bay Area theaters hits especially close to home for two local families. The war movie "Lone Survivor" tells the story of a deadly mission in Afghanistan that has left a lasting sadness on those back here at home.

A bronze statue in Cupertino's Memorial Park shows two Navy SEALs watching each other's backs.

"This is such a fabulous memorial from every aspect," Charis Spielman said. "There's details that have meaning to it."

Spielman knows -- from the curly hair to the big strong hands -- this is undeniably her nephew Matthew Axelson.

He was a Navy SEAL sniper killed on a mission in Afghanistan that left only one man alive.

The film "Lone Survivor" is based on the true account by Marcus Luttrell.

"To see it portrayed," Spielman said. "It does, it makes it even more real."

Just as painstaking attention was paid to the details of this statue, the film too was made with almost constant input from the men's families. And they say it shows.

"I think it was an accurate portrayal," Spielman said. "And I think his parents also believe that. And they also worked with Ben Foster to kind of explain to him who Matt was."

Foster portrays Axelson as soft-spoken; a man with deep loyalty to his friends and to America.

"He was someone who just strived for excellence," Spielman said. "And that was why he wanted to be a Navy SEAL."

"As a 10-year-old, I didn't know anything," said Axelson's cousin, Amanda. "It was my cousin was missing, my cousin was gone. And I think we should all just be so thankful for Marcus and his survival, because he lived to tell the story."

A story that spurred the creation of Cupertino's memorial, with eleven trees for the eleven men who died. And now, a story she hopes the rest of world will know.

"I think it does bring a face to all of them for anyone who's gonna go see that movie," Amanda said. "They're no longer just someone thousands of miles away fighting -- they're these people with these families."

"Lone Survivor" is rated "R." It runs two hours and opens everywhere this weekend.


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