Video Review: Green Day “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

In a field of overgrown daisies, a young woman (Evan Rachel Wood) kisses her boyfriend (Jamie Bell). As they hug, her boyfriend says over her shoulder, “you know how they say life is short? One day…everything you wished for, all gone, just like that?” She nods.

“People get old. things change, people change, situations change” he continues and she rubs her hands on his neck. “All I want is this day.” He adds that he wants their relationship to last forever. She responds that they’ve “always had each other and nothing can change that. They hug again and she pleads with him to not leave her. He vows to stay with her.

Against a charcoal background, Billie Joe Armstrong begins to sing.

She rides piggyback while they walk in the field. At sunset, they cuddle together as they sleep. They walk hand-in-hand the next morning and stop to get some fries at a food stand. She races him back inside the house. They kiss on the couch. Afterwards, she drinks some soda on the couch as he plays video games. She shuts off the television and he crawls over to her, kissing her on the cheek.

On his 18th birthday, she shoves some cake on his mouth.

In silhouette, Billie Joe sings against a blood-red background.

She bursts through the door and confronts him on the porch, asking him over and over, “tell me you didn’t do it?” and slaps him on his cheek. He puts his head down and her cries become high-pitched as she exclaims “oh my god, oh my god.” Hand over her heart, she asks him, “how could you do this to me?”

“Why don’t you understand!,” he shouts back, “I did this for us. I thought it would make it easier!” Back turned, she sobs on the column on the porch. He points to his chest, “I thought you would be proud of me!” and goes back inside the house.

Against a red background, the members of Green Day perform on round white platforms.

The young woman cries on her couch. At boot camp, he gets off the bus and is stopped by the drill instructor. He and the other recruits get their heads shaved. In Iraq, he and his troop survey the area. A despondent Iraqi woman leans against the wall, watching the soldiers. Walking in a straight line, they gaze towards the buildings, their guns pointed.

She sits on the couch, biting her nail and tapping her foot. The tank moves around the area. An explosion occurs and several soldiers are hit from the fire.

On stage, they raise their arms as sparks fly from the ceiling. The young woman sobs. A soldier drags an injured member of his troop to safety. She washes her face in the sink and looks into the mirror. The young man closes his eyes as his best friend is killed by a sniper. The soldiers rush to help him. He gulps in the corner. She walks to the porch and looks up to the sky, thinking of how she told her boyfriend she would always be there for him.

Rating: 4/5

The young woman returns home from her classes at the community college and turns on the television. The news reports that several soldiers were killed in Iraq during a mission. She fumbles in a drawer as the reporter continues with the story and finds a letter he wrote to her, counting down the days until he can come home to her. “We’ll get married,” he writes, “and start our life together.” It won’t be him. It can’t be him. His words mean something.

A day later, she receives a phone call from her boyfriend’s mother. “He’s gone, my baby’s gone,” she sobs. The receiver drops from the young woman’s hands and she cries against her dining room wall. He enlisted in the military as a way to get an education his family couldn’t afford. He wanted a future for himself. However, after her confrontation with him, she had asked him “what if something happened? what if a war starts?” He shook his head no, he’ll probably end up sitting at a desk typing reports. But she read the news and followed politics. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld chilled her with their hawkish rhetoric. The Iraq War wasn’t over.

She thinks of him daily and visits his mother every so often. They share memories and his mother tells her she’s glad he met her. His mother tells her it’s okay to move on. She’ll always be family to them. However, she skip class to eat at the food stand and walk in the field. Some days, she can feel his presence leaving her and she retraces the steps of her favorite moments with him.

Director: Samuel Bayer Year: 2005

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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her poetry has been published in the White Wall Review and 45 Magazine.

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