Saturday, November 2, 2013


The movie Redacted by the prestigeous film director Brian de Palma deals with many burning issues. It vividly shows the Iraqi war, and the conduct some of the US soldiers had during that time. It tackles the subject of the denigrating acts the US soldiers comitted against the Iraqi people, even to women and children. Indeed, the movie shows situations of shocking violence, and the desperation of the innocent people in Iraq. In addition to this, the film demonstrates how hard it is for the soldiers who lived such suffering and atrocities to come back to their homes in the USA. 
Another thing that makes the movie particularly efficient in its task of shocking the general public and raise awareness about the subject is the fact that the movie seems uncanningly real: all the scenes seem to be shot by an "amateur" and the atmosphere of the Iraqi cities is extremely realistic and faithful to reality. 
 Moreover, the film is clearly critical and denounces the multiple abuses the US army comitted during the war. 

This movie can be related to the notion of Power because of multiple issues it raises: 
On the one hand, the movie obviously questions the North American power in today's world. It is not the shining beacon of freedom that it pretends to be, and it definitely does not bring peace to the countries in which it "intervenes". But it also shows what the US is capable of...Indeed, they were able to start a war, and to finance it, and for now, getting away with the abuses comitted by their soldiers during that period. 
On the other hand, the film is a clear way of Brian de Palma to try to raise awareness about the subject, to draw attention to the fact that many have gone unpunished, and that world should not be allowing such a thing. Actually, this movie could be related to the power of knowledge and culture. Can a movie change the world? The power of the cultural industry against the political power of the states of the world. 

Here's a review by Mick LaSalle, published in the San Francisco Gate newspaper: 

Fictional documentary. Starring Izzy DiazDaniel Stewart Sherman,Patrick CarrollMike Figueroa and Ty Jones. Directed by Brian De Palma(R. 90 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
The standard line on anti-war movies is that Hollywood starts making them six or seven years after a war, never during one. "Redacted," the latest from director Brian De Palma, not only goes against that pattern but also is a new type of anti-war film, one that could have been made only during wartime. It isn't elegiac, but enraged. It doesn't look back with sorrow, but forward in dread. And it's made with a clear intention - to stop the Iraq war.
Its historical significance can be summed up in a sentence: "Redacted" is the angriest, most vehemently pacifist film ever made by a major American filmmaker in a time of war. It's a movie devoid of any reflexive sentimentality about the troops or the mission, and it doesn't even bother pretending. If a foreign filmmaker made it, it would seem an unpleasant provocation. But coming from the man who made "Carrie," "Scarface," "The Untouchables" and "Carlito's Way," it has to go down as one of the bravest and most unambiguous cinematic statements of the decade.
De Palma was able to make the movie because he could make it on the cheap, on digital video. And then he turned around and made a virtue of necessity, using various kinds of video and video techniques to tell his story with a maximum of immediacy and innovation. Sometimes we watch the soldiers filming themselves. Sometimes we see surveillance footage or video put out on the Web. Hidden cameras record conversations in some scenes. In others we see footage from a French documentary about Iraq.
All of it is fictional and created by De Palma, who won a completely deserved Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival this year. The characters are fictional as well. But the events depicted are based on truth, including the film's central incident, in which American soldiers rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murder her family, shoot her in the face and then set her body on fire.
Video, with its present-tense feel, creates the sense of being there. Sweat trickles down soldiers' faces as they stand at a checkpoint, and the audience waits for disaster - a sniper, a car bomb. The movie conveys the hellish boredom and terror of the front lines and shows the toll they take, and yet it never absolves the characters of moral responsibility. Some would never lose their humanity under pressure, some do, and some use the war as a pretext to be as cruel and demented as they've always wanted to be. The troops are not a monolith, but people of varying strengths and weaknesses.
The flavor of barracks life is presented through footage shot by a character named Salazar (Izzy Diaz), who hopes to get into film school on the strength of an Iraq documentary. The soldier banter is the film's most erratic element. Sometimes it rings true, as when a soldier reacts to the killing of a pregnant woman at a checkpoint by saying, "You can't afford remorse. You get remorse, you get weak; you get weak, you die." It sounds like exactly the kind of mantra that a stupid young man might offer as wisdom. Yet the movie veers into obviousness with the character of Flake (Patrick Carroll), a dead-eyed psychopath who seems to revel calmly in having killed the pregnant woman. He's a character set up for us to hate.
Still, even at its most blatantly manipulative, "Redacted" provokes a response of rage, disgust and anger. De Palma strives to ignite passion, and while some of that passion may end up directed at the film itself, "Redacted" is an antidote to apathy. It's not the easiest movie to sit through, but who said movies are supposed to be easy to sit through? De Palma must have been absent the day they taught that in film school.
Rather than create a perfect, contained whole, De Palma has created a film that finds its meaning in the outside world, in the effect he hopes it will have. His movie is naked and obvious and sizable enough to hate or love, kind of like Charlie Chaplin's speech at the end of "The Great Dictator." Sometimes the world intrudes. Sometimes issues are so big that there's really no point in being elegant.

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