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Saturday, September 5, 2009
GREEN SENTENCED FOR LIFE
AND ANOTHER PASSAGE ABOUT REDACTED
BBC News reports that Steven Green has been given five life sentences, with no possibility of parole, for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and the murder of her family. The incident was the basis for Brian De Palma's 2007 film, Redacted.

Nick Lacey posted an excerpt the other day from his recently published second edition of Image and Representation, which looks at key concepts in media language. The excerpt he posted, called "Representing the war in Iraq," looks at several of the films made in recent years about the conflict that began in 2003. Lacey provides a brief but interesting analysis of Redacted, although he seems to say that the photograph that ends the film is an actual photograph (which therefore leads him to call the film "exploitative"), although the final photograph (shown here) was actually a staged photo. Here is Lacy's passage about Redacted:

Redacted, the most unconventional of the ‘Iraq films’, also uses new media technologies to represent the rape of a 15-year-old girl and the murder of herself, and her family, by US marines. The film starts with a disclaimer that the film is ‘a fiction inspired by true events’. The writer-director, Brian De Palma, uses a mix of texts to show what (might have) happened: a ‘home video’ made by one of the marines; a pastiche of a French (intellectual) documentary about Iraq; CCTV cameras; Internet postings; a video made on a mobile phone; photojournalism. Although it may seem that it is a realist text, the multimedia mixing instead draws attention to the artifice of what is shown. This may suggest that such horrendous events cannot be convincingly rendered by realism. Indeed De Palma also deploys melodrama; the one good guy, who tries to publicise what’s happened, is called Lawyer McCoy. This melodrama extends to the use of an aria from Puccini’s opera Tosca, the protagonist of which murders the man who is trying to rape her. This, highly passionate, aria could be seen as an ironic comment upon the Iraqi teenager’s inability to kill her rapists. However, the last image of the film is an actual photograph of the dead girl which needs no melodramatic heightening to appall its audience and so, ultimately, De Palma’s film comes across as exploitative.


Posted by Geoff at 12:14 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 5, 2009 3:58 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post

Saturday, September 5, 2009 - 10:11 AM CDT

Name: "Nick Lacey"
Home Page: http://laceysfilms.wordpress.com

I did say it was exploitative but had assumed it was an actual photograph of the victim; so I read with interest that it's actually a staged image. It fits with the pastiche elements of the film that this should look real but be a reconstruction. It still begs the question, however, whether it is exploitative because even if it isn't an actual photograph when it is combined with the Puccini melodrama it is still unnecessarily 'heart wringing'; the obscenity of the rape and murder can stand on its own.

Saturday, September 5, 2009 - 3:53 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma

Hi, Nick-- yes, I would agree that the way it is staged in the film would not negate your point about it being exploitative, especially as it is included in a montage that does mostly consist of actual photographs. As far as the melodrama aspect, it may be worth considering that this closing section of the film again falls in line with the pastiche elements by mimicing the types of photographic montages set to music that De Palma found on the web while researching this story. That it is set to the Puccini aria sets it apart as De Palma's personal montage, however-- De Palma seems very familiar with Tosca, and the use of irony you write of does not seem off the mark, although combined with this particular image, it almost seems like the girl is coming back to haunt the psyche.

Sunday, September 6, 2009 - 2:33 AM CDT

Name: "Nick Lacey"
Home Page: http://laceysfilms.wordpress.com/

Interesting. I'm guessing you liked the film (your obviously a DePalma fan!) whilst I hated it. However, our readings are not that different. Still, I do admire a mainstream director making such an indictment of America's conduct in the war.

Sunday, September 6, 2009 - 12:22 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma

Yes, I do like the film. And even though you hated it, I really appreciate reading your insights into the film.

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