~ Truth is the first casualty of War ~
Redacted was released this year and I was given the DVD from my Love film collection. I hadn't heard of it before I found this on the website but read the plot and thought it sounded pretty good. Being interested in war films it grabbed my attention as it is dominantly focused around the Iraq war. I finally had chance last night to sit own and watch it. The film is directed and written by Brian De Palma and is a fictional drama which surprised me as not knowing anything about it I actually thought it was a proper film about it. Even though it was based around true events of The Mahmudiyah killings that happened in 2006 the drama consists on made up portrayals of the American soldiers and Iraqi locals of the village. I didn't know any of the actors used in the production and I haven't heard of director Brian de Palma before but it seemed to have a difference from other War dramas.
~ INFO ~
Director and Writer- Brian de Palma
Even though I hadn't heard of Brian de Palma has directed many successful films including Hollywood Blockbusters Mission Impossible in 1996, Snake Eyes in 1998 and the film Black Dahlia in 2006. He seems to have quite a taste for action, thrillers and documentaries and has won several awards for his work.
Edited- Bill Pankow
Distributed- Magnolia Pictures
Release Date- 14 March 2008 (UK)
Runtime 90 Mins
~ PLOT SUMMARY ~
Redacted is based on true events of a rap and killing of a 15 year old Iraqi girl done by US American soldiers in Alfa Company. The fictional piece is focused around a platoon of soldiers stationed at a roadside checkpoint in Iraq and shows the experiences of the young men under constant danger and death. It explains how the every day patrolling of the city affects some soldiers in different and horrific ways. Angel Salazar uses his personal hand held camera to capture his own experience of what happens to himself and his group which leads to a shocking crime.
~ CAST and CHARACTERS ~
Angel Salazar - Izzy Diaz
Angel is the protagonist of the film and captures events and confessions from his fellow colleges. He seems open minded about the war but is easily led by the more dominant members in the group, this maybe due to the fact he'll do anything to film the truth of the Iraq War.
Battalion Commander 'Happy' Anderson- Eric Anderson
Anderson is the leader of the group and seems to be cautious and careful about what he does. He keeps his men under control and being in Iraq for three tours he has the most experience in this dangerous town. Although he teaches the men the ways of the enemy he is not as careful as he thinks and ends up in a shocking event of reality.
Reno Flake- Patrick Carroll
Reno is Sergeant of the group and is in charge while they are in the camp. Even though he keeps his men in line, the bully in the group over powers him and shows no respect for his higher rank. At the start he seems in control but soon we see that he cannot keep all of his men from doing what's right and to follow orders.
Private Gabe Blix - Ken O'Neil
B. B Rush- Daniel Stewart Sherman
Sgt Jin Vazquez - Mike Figueroa
~ OPINIONS and ANALYSIS ~
I was pretty disappointed with this film and thought that the cover was very misleading. If you look at the cover of the DVD it says to me it is a War film.
Anyway I was that appalled by the film I actually turned it off half way through. Although the piece is fictional it has pretty bad views and acting which I thought was a let down from a brilliant director. However I did like a few things about how the drama was filmed and some of the information of the patrols.
EDITING and SHOTS
One thing that I did like about the film was all of the different ways of shooting it included which made it a little more interesting. We had about five different viewings which were- A helmet camera, Angel's handheld camera, the surveillance footage outside the camp, a journalist's news camera and normal movie cameras for the establishing shots of the city. I actually liked this about the piece and it was good to get the events up close and personal. This did give it a feel of realism and creativity. The establishing shots of the surrounding city were really good. It gave you an idea of the atmosphere the soldiers were in and how dangerous it is. It shows you how exposed the men are to snipers and bombers and from the other side how the local villagers are trying to live around the security of the soldiers. The place is dismal, rubbish everywhere, dusty, hot and depressing.
The cuts and fades try to show more creativity as the director uses all kinds of ways to cut to the next scene and event. He uses fades which dissolve in patterns which I thought looked pretty tacky and he also uses slides. I don't really think this helped the film at all as it looked really down market and low budgeted.
The acting was just god dam awful. The actors weren't really convincing and they didn't seem like they suited the roles. The foul language was so over the top you couldn't really get the point they were saying, it made the dialogue really unrealistic and annoying to hear. The conversations were mainly of arguments due to a clash of opinion amongst the soldiers and it really bored me just listening to fights all the way through. The actors looked liked they had never acted before and there was no real variation in the soldiers.
Not saying all soldiers are well behaved and don't have a negative view on the war but all of them just seem to be racist and all they want to do is cause disruption. They have no idea why they are there and quite frankly don't seem to care either, they don't want anything to do with keeping the peace.
There are many unrealistic views on this story. Even though it based on the true killings of a young girl everything about it was just daft. Director De Palma was criticised for not including certain facts about the murder even though to be fair it is a fictional piece and he says that he wasn't allowed to draw in real facts. Apart from that many of the ways the journalists were used was just barbaric. I don't really think that they would be allowed to follow the soldiers everywhere. The crew are there when they raid the house for the first time and film them searching the house and the tenants, which I don't believe would actually be allowed. Also they are a really unbelievable new crew. The lady reporter is such a bad actress you can't take her seriously. Her reactions to things are badly done and when she asks the soldiers questions they don't seem to be bothered by the camera? The raid of the house is filmed badly making it look like some parody; it actually reminded me of The Blair Witch and ruined the dramatic event.
The film does show the realistic view of a negative light toward some soldiers. I can believe that some act in this way but it doesn't give a view on the positive soldiers who are there to do their jobs, it ignores the act of heroism of many soldiers in Iraq. The private mission that the company perform didn't seem to me as made up there might be soldiers who do that but I don't think it would be that easy to go through with. I mean surely others would notice vehicles missing and a group of five soldiers off base?
The film actually lacks in humanity which is the main point De Palma wants to gain.
One thing I did like about the film was the information on the roadside checkpoints. As my boyfriend has had to do a checkpoint once in Iraq is was interesting to see how they worked and the dangers of patrolling them. The Iraqi narrator helped with the culture and I think it was properly the best filmed part of the whole thing. It runs through the procedure of how they search each car who tries to cross the area. There were facts said by the narrator as we see the soldier's stop and search several cars. I actually found some the facts interesting especially as we hear a soldier say- 'there are clear signs in both English and Arabic saying stop military checkpoint' and then hear the narrator say-'over 50% of people in Iraq are illiterate'. It gives an interesting view on both points of view.
The event of the rape and killings was actually pretty hard to watch. Being a fifteen it didn't film the rape scene for long but it actually was so upsetting to see I was glad they didn't play it for more. You actually see the women being held down and the soldiers grabbing her from behind. It was hard-hitting and cold and the screams of the women were horrible. The camera films as the soldier enters her harshly and then is seen disappearing from the house as Angel cannot cope with the situation as the audience could not. This private mission is hard to watch especially as you actually see the men plan it before hand. It puts on a national shame and degrades most soldiers who actually wouldn't think of this sort of behaviour.
I wouldn't particularly recommend this film to anyone. Even though it points out some important and harsh truths about war it is really badly done and there will be a lot better films made about the Iraq war in future. It is a disappointment coming form a director like De Palma and it is actually hell to sit through, which is shown after I could only watch just over an hour of it in one go. It is poorly filmed, poorly acted and poorly scripted.
~ EXTRAS ~
You can buy the DVD if you want to waste your money! On Play.com for £10.99 or Amazon had it for £6.08.
* Higher Definition: Interview with Director, Brian De Palma
* Refugee Interviews
* Photo Gallery
* The film received 42% rotten tomatoes.
Redacted begins with a message "This film is entirely fiction, inspired by an incident widely reported across Iraq. While some of the events depicted here may resemble those of the reported incident, the characters are entirely fictional, and the words and actions should not be confused with those of real persons" but before you have been able to read the message great chunks of the message become censored; Redacted is a movie about censorship of the truth; its subject censorship of the truth in respect of US soldiers experiences in the Iraq war. The movie covers a series of individual montages, from a variety of perspectives.
Ever the one to enjoy causing a stir Brian De Palma's $5 million dollar movie shot in high definition, Redacted caused so much controversy when it first screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival that many countries movie distributors refused to take the responsibility for showing it in their countries, one of whom initially was the United States. De Palma anticipated the issues that he would meet, but chose to address the situation head on, working on the basis of his own personal beliefs.
Redacted is mercifully just under 90 minutes in length, I say mercifully because it is not a good film. Redacted may be a film that needs to be made, but to me I just don't feel that now is the time, and ideally when the time is right the delivery is far more rewarding. Here tragically the movie reflects the Iraq situation in a terrible light for the Americans, and whereas I always feel anger towards the Iraqi's this movie has you walking away thinking that they are the victims, whether you personally believe they are or not is down to you. But De Palma's brazen attempt to shock makes the movie leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth.
Big chunks of the movie are spent with you observing, I appreciate that this is the case with all films, but the great strength of this movie is you feel like a participant during the blockade scenes; I say strength, but it's also a great weakness. For what seems like a fifth of the film, you are just observing a blockade, the idea being that you experience the monotony of waiting for either your duty to end, or something to happen. Because of the boredom of waiting you see soldiers sleeping on the job, and when accidents occur (same side killing, accidental death of Iraqi's) the reason could be caused through that being half awake feeling we all feel at times and nine times out of ten make mistakes during.
The central part of the movie surrounds a rape of a fifteen year old Iraqi girl at the hands of a group of American soldiers. To make matters worse they then execute the girl and her entire family. The result of this is played out via the media, the likes of websites like youtube, and of course through revenge. The issues we all fear for our soldiers and civilians working in Iraq, and that is of kidnapping and potential execution are sadly justified in the film, which to me is distressing when you think about people like Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan who literally were victims trying to aid a country.
I appreciate that you may consider me guilty of committing the offense of watching this movie, thus condoning what I believe is wrong and I guess I have to hold my hands high and confess I really don't know what persuaded me to watch the film, as I knew that the reality of the film would be what I expected. To some degree I guess De Palma gets his reward, because not only are people watching the film due to get an understanding of its controversial nature; but also because by the end of the movie you are sick to the pit of your stomach over what could be happening in this country.
The movie contains lots of anger, not as you might expect between the American's and the Iraqi's but between the American soldiers who seem to take great pride in winding each other up that they make harsh and unjustified attacks on the people that are innocently trying to live their lives as best they know how in a virtual wasteland.
De Palma makes none of the movies characters likeable, even the innocent victims, if of course you deem them as being innocent. Neither does he do much to endear any aspect of the movie to its viewing audience, I personally felt quite hateful a few minutes after the movie started; and that feeling never lifted once during the movies duration.
While the movie will leave you with memories you'll find hard to shake off, especially the final moments in which you see the bodies of hundreds of dead Iraqi's; it is not something I would recommend and certainly not something I would ever want to see again. I'm sure that De Palma achieves something major here, but it's not something I really want any part of. I'm not glad I saw this movie and I'm annoyed that I never had the moral strength to avoid it, something that all the warning signs in my head told me to do in advance.
If I have not done my job in veering you clear of this movie, and you still feel inclined to see it Redacted opens in British cinemas on 21st March 2008.